A host of biblical heroes make an appearance on the High Holidays in order to accompany us on our spiritual journey. Who are they? What is their connection to the High Holidays? What are their stories and messages?
On this sheet, we will introduce you to several of the people that you will meet on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Sarah, at the age of 90, finally gives birth to a son in the Torah reading for the first day of Rosh Hashanah.
The first verse of the Torah reading gives us one reason why this section is read on Rosh Hashanah. God "took note" or remembered Sarah.
- What would you like God to remember about you on Rosh Hashanah?
- What do you think it means for God to remember? Can there be remembering if there is no forgetting?
- Can you think of another time in the Tanakh that God remembers?
Learn more about Sarah on her Topic page.
The story of Hannah is read as the Haftarah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Hannah's story is quite similar to Sarah's. She, too, has difficulty conceiving and is also "remembered" by God and then has a child.
In her distress, Hannah turns to God through prayer. Her heartfelt prayer becomes a model of what prayer should be. In fact, the rabbis of the Talmud derive four separate laws regarding prayer from Hannah's prayer.
The character who appears in Torah readings on both days of Rosh Hashanah is Abraham. In the first day Torah reading, he has to listen to his wife, Sarah, and banish his oldest son, Yishamael. In the second day's reading, God tells him to offer his favorite son, Isaac, as a burnt offering.
Learn more about Abraham on his Topic page.