Sunday, 28 September 2008

Rosh Hashanah: Dveikut and Shlaimut

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at, we have chosen an article that relates to the Rosh Hashanah, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.
The focus of Rosh Hashanah, of course, would seem to be teshuva, repentance, yet the behaviour of the day would seem to focus on tephilla, prayer. While a connection between the two in the context of the day is understandable -- they are two of the three elements that can avert a negative decree (the other being tzedakah, charity) -- there may be more to this connecton than one may at first think. We invite you to look at an article on this topic at


Anonymous said...

very nice blog, great Torah. just one thing - i wouldn't translate 'tzedakah' as 'charity'. charity really means 'to give because you care' and tzedakah means giving because it is the right thing to do and/or because it is a mitzvah to do it.

more later. shana tova.

arnie draiman

Nishma said...

You're point is well taken. There are many examples of the numerous problems that exist when one is left with having to translate a work in Hebrew to English; this is one case. I often do actually point out, when translating, that there is a problem with the translation even though I did not do so in this case. The reason for the problem is very simple. English is built upon a Christian consciousness and words were developed reflecting that frame of reference. Hebrew, of course, reflects a Torah frame of reference and indicates that our motivations for certain acts actually emerge from a different source than the general motivation for that act within a Christain framework. These distinctions are, in fact, often major and thus translations, although somewhat necessary in a certain sense, can be very misleading -- as misleading, perhaps, as the term Judaeo-Christian.

Rabbi Ben Hecht