Yom Sheini shel Rosh HaShanah
Rosh Hashanah Morning, Day 2 (Genesis 22)
(Many Reform congregations read this portion on Rosh Hashanah, Day 1.)
This portion is commonly known as The Akeidah, or “the binding.” In these terse and tense verses, the subject matter touches upon God, the nature of faith, and the demands faith may make of us. God calls upon Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a supreme test of faith. Abraham, God’s loyal servant, agrees. Just as Abraham is about to offer his son up as a sacrifice, an angel calls out to him, instructing him not to harm the boy, and Abraham sacrifices a ram in place of his son. For the ancient reader this may have served as a rejection of human sacrifice, a practice of ancient Israel’s neighbors. For the modern reader, perhaps one is called upon to consider one’s own tests and sacrifices.
Rosh Hashanah Morning, Day 2, alternate selection (Genesis 1)
In these verses we see the grand plan for an intricately designed world, where each day builds on the work of the previous day and each day brings new creation. The Bible mentions the number seven more than 500 times. It is on the seventh day that we receive that most sacred of gifts, Shabbat. But we know that the work of creation is not finished. We have only to look at the world around us. We are called upon to work in partnership with God to continue in this sacred task.
The haftarah (Jeremiah 31:2-20)
Focuses on many aspects of(repentance). The passage affirms that God hears the prayers of the repentant and welcomes them home.