Students continued their learning of mesekhet Rosh HaShanah and the Drashat haRamban, with a focus on the sugyot dealing with the shofar itself and with the mitzvah of tekiat shofar. In my shiur, we gave particular attention to the two other mitzvot to which shofar is connected - the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur of the Yovel, and the blowing of the silver trumpets that accompanied the sacrifices in the Temple and that also were a part of a Temple ritual, and perhaps general communal prayer service, on fast days. We saw how the blowing on the Jubilee Year served a distinct purpose from the blowing on Rosh HaShanah, and how the two mitzvot are given different halakhic formulations, and we grappled with why, given that, the special blessings of these two days - the malkhiot, zikhronot, and shofarot - are the same. We further explored the nature of the shofar blowing of Rosh Hashanah in the Temple, which was accompanied with the silver trumpets, and which may have been a qualitatively distinct blowing - not one of fulfilling an individual's obligation, but one of declaring the day to be a Yom Teruah, a day of shofar blasts.
On Tuesday, Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Marder met with students from the various years to help them prepare for the Yamim Noraim, particularly for those who will be serving in pulpits or as interns over Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. On Wednesday and Thursdays students continued their machshava classes on a range of topicsmi'inyana di'yoma, from Chasidut on Yamim Noraim, to a mussar va'ad, to a class on Beiur Tefillah. On Thursday, all students participated in a session with Merle Feld on spiritual writing, and used writing, with guided prompts, as a tool for inner-reflection and assessment.
We are eagerly anticipating next week, when we will have our annual Elul retreat for students and rebbeim from Monday through Tuesday. This is a special opportunity for students and rebbeim to connect deeply to one another and to spend time in spiritual reflection and in preparing ourselves for the Yamim Noraim.
And in the Mazal Tov department - Mazal Tov to Ari Weiss (YCT 2007) and Sara Kranzler on their recent engagement. She'tizku li'vnot bayit ne'eman bi'Yisrael. A Mazal Tov as well to Rabbi Alex Kaye (YCT 2008) on having received his doctorate in Jewish History from Columbia University. Mazal Tov!