This four-part series will take place on Mondays at 1:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm in Israel, August 29 to September 19
The Mishnah tractate devoted to Rosh Hashanah presents a multifaceted view of a festival presented enigmatically in the Bible as zikhron teruah, "a memorial of blowing of trumpets." The Mishnah fleshes out the ritual content of this festival, describing the nature of the "trumpets," how they are to be blown, and what special prayers accompany the trumpet blasts, occasionally interjecting supplementary aggadic or historical material that allude to deeper meanings embedded in the rituals. Surprisingly, the first half of the tractate alludes only briefly to Rosh Hashanah, and is devoted mostly to the Sanctification of the New Moon.
Our study of this tractate will focus on understanding not only the contents of the Mishnah, but its structure and themes. In order to grapple with the many abrupt shifts of topic and divergences from topical presentation that we encounter in our tractate, we will employ close reading techniques, paying careful attention to keywords and other literary echoes. Following the way in which Mishnah interweaves seemingly disparate themes will help us to perceive the conceptual and spiritual world underlying the halakhic contents of the tractate.