My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew by Abigail PogrebinAlthough she grew up following some holiday rituals, Pogrebin realized how little she knew about their foundational purpose and contemporary relevance; she wanted to understand what had kept these holidays alive and vibrant, some for thousands of years. Her curiosity led her to embark on an entire year of intensive research, observation, and writing about the milestones on the Jewish religious calendar.
How to Get Inscribed in the Book of Life
Sep 23 23 Elul Torah Portion. I heard the idea that during the High Holidays, God writes one's name in a book. Where does this concept come from, and how can this concept bring meaning to the holidays for me? The righteous go into the Book of Life, the evil go into the Book of Death, and those in-between have judgment suspended until Yom Kippur. In actuality, the vast majority of us are neither totally good nor bad.
From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur
Rabbinical tradition tells us that one way we can help ensure that our names are inscribed in the book of life is to give to others in our communities. Giving is particularly important during the Days of Awe, which are the ten days which lie between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. According to the Talmud, God opens three books of destiny on Rosh Hashanah. If our deeds are good, he writes our names in the Book of Life. If our deeds are wicked, he writes our names in the Book of Death — but if our deeds fall somewhere in between, they are written in a third book.
Some people have asked me to explained to them what Rosh Hashana Jewish holiday is all about. Here you go:. Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year. It is also the birthday of creation. It is a tradition that recognizes human frailty, freedom of choice and responsibility.
For this reason extra mention is made for the Book of Life during Amidah recitations during the Days of Awe , the ten days between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year , and Yom Kippur , the day of atonement the two High Holidays , particularly in the prayer Unetaneh Tokef. In the Hebrew Bible the Book of Life—the book or muster-roll of God—records forever all people considered righteous before God. The Psalms also speaks of a book of the living: "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. Even the tears of men are recorded in this Book of God. The apocryphal Book of Jubilees  speaks of two heavenly tablets or books: a Book of Life for the righteous, and a Book of Death for those that walk in the paths of impurity and are written down on the heavenly tablets as adversaries of God.