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The High Holidays Explained With Cat GIFs

The Jewish High Holidays begin the evening of Sunday, October 2 with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and continue with Yom Kippur and then Sukkot. The High Holidays, explained in the universal language of the Web: Cats

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The Jewish High Holidays Are Coming

And even to the most experienced, they can be overwhelming.

Don't Panic!

...And Don't Worry.

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Because we've got you covered!

You Aren't Alone!

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The month before the holidays even start is already a chance to get ready. Don't worry about dressing fancy or having to sit through any long speeches . . . during this month, known as Elul, the mystics explained G-d's blessings are founds in the regular hum-drum of life around us.

Wake Up

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The week before Rosh Hashanah, many Jews have the custom to rise early in the morning and say selichot, special prayers of preparation.

Bless Up

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Rosh Hashanah isn't about sadness - it's about returning to who we are, getting back to the essence of our souls and reuniting ourselves with our core purpose.

It's a day for saying, "I am a Jew, I belong with this people, I connect, I identify."

Make it a Sweet Year

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During Rosh Hashanah we feast!

These meals are rich with symbolism. We start with kiddush and sweet challah. On the first night, the meal begins with an apple dipped in honey, as we say, "May it be Your will that this year be good and sweet." All the foods we serve are sweet, nothing bitter.

This year will be sweet!

... and bring it down.

On Rosh Hashanah we blow the shofar, a simple instrument made from a rams horn. Like the inner scream of a wordless cry, it represents the essence - a desire to get to a better place and connect with something higher. It draws down blessings for the new year.
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On Rosh Hashanah we blow the shofar, a simple instrument made from a rams horn. Like the inner scream of a wordless cry, it represents the essence - a desire to get to a better place and connect with something higher.

It draws down blessings for the new year.

Like a fish that never sleeps

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On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, late in the afternoon, we walk to a body of water containing live fish and recite tashlich, a prayer that G‑d, out of His great compassion, will toss our past failures into the sea.

There is No Repentance in Judaism

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The days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur are known as the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

Teshuvah is often mistranslated as "repentance." Repentance implies that you were bad and now have to become good. Teshuvah means simply to return. Meaning that you are always essentially good, certain behaviors may have been somewhat off base—and now all you have to do is rediscover your true place and your true self and return to there.

Say sorry, make amends, return to your essence.

It's a Mitzvah to Eat?

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Yes! It's not just preparation for the fast. When we eat two good meals the day before Yom Kippur—it's a mitzvah. In fact, feast today and fast tomorrow and it's counted as though you fasted for two days.

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Some think Yom Kippur is a sad day. But how could the highest day of the year possibly be sad?

It's just that dealing with physical needs on this day distracts from our mission. So we fast, not because we can't eat - but because we don't even need to.

That's also why we dress in white on this day, to remind us that today we are as high as the angels, who need neither food nor drink. And yet higher.

Highest of Highs

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The last moments of Yom Kippur are called neilah - a time when the gates are closed and we remain in a personal audience with the Creator. There are no distractions, no multiplicity - just utter oneness.

The shofar blows one more time, we dance, we sing, a good year is sure to follow!

Take it outdoors

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Following Yom Kippur we celebrate Sukkot, an eight-day holiday with three special mitzvahs:

To dwell in a sukkah, a temporary booth with a natural roof of inedible vegetation.

We shake the lulav and etrog

To be happy (yes, that's also a mitzvah)

We try to do everything we can in the sukkah, including the meals we eat. Life, like the sukkah is only temporary, but when we elevate it for something higher, we use it for a mitzvah, it gains true permanence and meaning.

Shake it!

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Each day of Sukkot besides Shabbat we shake the lulav and etrog - date palm, myrtle, willow branches and the citron fruit.

These four very diverse plants create one integral whole. If one is missing—even a humble willow branch—the circuit is broken. Just like us, the Jewish People: Regardless of knowledge or observance, each individual is unique and essential.

Dance! Dance! Dance!

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The last two holidays of this jam-packed month are Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

They are the victory lap of the high holiday season. We have our final meals in the Sukkah on Shemini Atzeret and bring the dancing in earnest when we take out the Torah and dance the nights and day away!

On Simchat Torah, they say, the Torah itself wants to rejoice—and we provide the legs.

Hit the road Jack!

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The High Holiday season may have ended, but the inspiration continues the entire year! The chasidic masters compare the High Holidays to entering a market or a bazaar - you can pack your bags with the love, the joy, the awe and the wonder needed for a powerful year ahead.

So pack your bags for the journey, for where we're going we don't need roads!

To learn more about the High Holidays go to chabad.org/jewishnewyear

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