Friday, April 30, 2010
Shin & Tav: The End
Shin is for...
Shabbos: The Sabbath is the seventh day, a day of rest commanded by G-d in the Torah, starting at sundown Friday evening and ending the the appearance of three stars Saturday night. From start to finish, we are forbidden from doing activities contained within the "49 melachos", or 49 major categories of activity used to build the mishkon (tabernacle) in the wilderness. These acts include such things as cooking, lighting fires, putting out fires, carrying between a private and public domain, handling money, and putting the finishing touch on a project (which forbids the modern act of completing a circuit to use electricity).
Shofar: A shofar is a hallowed animal horn that is shaped, hardened, and then used during specific times of the year in services that are mean to awaken the soul to overpower the body and push for repentance.
Shavuos: Meaning "weeks" in English, Shavuos is the holiday celebrating Matan Torah, or the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Har Sinai. On the first night, men stay awake until the morning service, studying and learning all night in preparation for the spiritual re-deliverance of the Torah.
Shalom: Generally translated as "peace", the root of the word "shalom" means "whole", showing us that it is only when something is complete and at one with itself that there can be peace.
Tav is for...
Torah: The word "Torah" generally refers to the five books given to and/or written by Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses), but can refer to the entirety of Jewish literature, as all of the works are based on words in the Written or Oral Torah, and therefore truly contain within them whatever is expounded from them.
Tefillah: Tefillah is commonly thought of as prayer, but is truly much deeper. The Hebrew word "tefillah" is from a reflexive verb, meaning that the object of the action is the person doing the action. Tefillah, therefore, is a deep contemplation and process of thought meant to inspire, change, and arouse to action the person who is engaged in tefillah. In the three daily services in the synagogue, tefillah is done in a set order with set words from scripture dictated by ancient sages.
Teshuvah: Similar to the western idea of "repentance", teshuvah is the process by which we reflect on our deeds and resolve to return to the correct course of action.