How To Prepare For Rosh Hashanah

A Spiritual Guide For Rosh Hashanah

Immanuel Shalev


With just 5 minutes a day, you'll be ready to show up on Rosh Hashanah feeling prepared. We’ll talk about prayer, how to understand davening, why we blow the shofar and what it means, how to leave behind all the guilt of Rosh Hashanah, and why it’s worth celebrating.

Discover other great Rosh Hashanah videos at Aleph Beta, including ‘How To Do Teshuva”, “The Two Trees In The Garden Of Eden”. and “Akeidah: The Story Of Abraham & Isaac


Elul. Rosh Hashanah. The High Holy Days are coming. It feels so ominous.

Let me ask you a question: How many of you are excited about the days of awe? I don’t know about you, and maybe I shouldn’t admit this considering that I teach Torah for a living, but each year, I dread these days.

How Should We Spiritually Prepare for Rosh Hashanah?

I’m dreading sitting in shul for hours and hours, doing my best to pay attention, but mostly spacing out. The prayers are in Hebrew, but even in the English, there’s so much poetry, it’s difficult to understand, and relate to. And I feel guilty about that – guilty that these days are supposed to be really important, and more often than not, I don’t prepare, or don’t prepare well enough that I can understand and follow everything.

And while we’re on the topic of guilt, these days are so difficult to relate to because of all the guilt. Rosh Hashanah, Happy New Year by the way, is the Day of Judgment. Yom Kippur is the Day of Repentance. It’s like guilt-fest.

Each year, we sit and we think about how horrible we’ve been, and we resolve never to be that horrible again...except, how many of us really do teshuvah gemurah, complete and utter repentance, and walk away from the sins we repeat over and over?

So I’m supposed to make myself feel guilty for my failures, and I try to do teshuvah, but really I know that I’m just gonna sin again, and so I feel guilty that my teshuvah isn’t real teshuvah, and that kinda makes me not wanna do teshuvah, and then I feel guilty for that, I mean, it’s just too much.

But what if I were to tell you that Yom Hadin, that Judgment Day, isn’t in the Torah. Those words? They never appear.

That’s it! Cancel shul! We’re going to Disneyland!

No, not quite.

The sages in the Mishnah are the ones that teach us that Rosh Hashanah is Judgment Day. But what I want to suggest is that the reason why you can’t find Judgment Day in the Torah, is because judgment... isn’t the true essence of the day. And until we understand what Rosh Hashanah really is about, at its core, we’re not really ready to observe it, to do it right.

A Guide to What Rosh Hashanah Is About

Hi, I’m Imu Shalev, and if you join us on this adventure, give us just a few minutes a day, and we’ll help you show up to shul on the High Holidays feeling ready, this year. We’ll explore the essence of what Rosh Hashanah really is about, and see how it might help us stand before God, and before ourselves, not feeling the harshness and the gloom of guilt, but truly celebrating, and even looking forward, to these holidays. We’ll talk about prayer, and how to understand davening. We’ll discuss the shofar, and why on earth we blow it, and what we’re meant to think about and feel, while we’re listening.

All that and more. Thanks for watching – see you next time!

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