1.03 WEEK 1-WAKING UP TO THE SOUND OF THE SHOFAR A HIGH HOLIDAY SELF- EVALUATION QUIZ
The purpose of this self-evaluation quiz is to identify areas in your knowledge of the High Holy Days that might need strengthening. This can help you evaluate areas that you might have to work on in your preparations this Elul.
If you are someone experiencing your first or second Holiday season, don’t expect to know the answers to most of the questions. This is understandable. It might be a good idea not even to fill out this checklist. and use this as an informal guide to areas of future study.
Keep in mind that no one will get all number 1’s on this checklist. It takes a few Eluls of good, solid preparation in order to cover most of the topics on this list.
HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD ONE SPEND PER DAY ON PREPARATIONS FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
Harav Noach Weinberg recommends spending 30-60 minutes per day on preparations for the High Holy Days. This is, of course, on condition that you are being productive. If you are not succeeding in what you are doing, speak to your Rebbe or program advisor about other alternatives. It is also important to stress that this holiday preparation has to be from the quality free time of your day and not done at hours when you don’t have energy. And of course, this preparation should not interfere with any of your other Yeshiva learning responsibilities.
HOW TO USE THIS CHECKLIST
The following is a list of the major topics of the holiday period followed by a list of questions. Next to each question either put a number 1 if you know the answer, 2 if you know the answer somewhat, or 3 if you don’t know the answer. If you see that in a certain area you have all number 3’s, it is a sign that you have work to do in this area.
1. THE MONTH OF ELUL
A. What happened historically in the Chumash during the month of Elul?
B. What is the goal of Elul?
C. How do I use Elul in the best way?
D. What is the best way to prepare for the holiday period?
A. Do I know the meaning of the Slichos prayers?
B. What is the function of the Slichos prayers?
C. What are the Yud-Gimmel Midos D’Rachamim (the 13 Character Traits of Mercy) and how do I use them?
D. What is the history of the Yud-Gimmel Midos in the Chumash?
2. ROSH HASHANAH
A. What is the meaning behind Rosh HaShanah?
B. Why does it last 2 days long?
C. Why does Rosh HaShanah come before Yom Kippur? Shouldn’t it be the opposite?
D. What exactly is the type of teshuva that I am supposed to do on Rosh HaShanah?
E. What happened historically on Rosh HaShanah?
F. Do I know the meaning of why we blow the Shofar?
G. What is the reason behind Tashlich (the ceremony of symbolically emptying our pockets into a body of aawater)?
H. What is the custom of the symbolic foods? (saying the V’yehe Ratzons over certain fruits & aavegetables)?
I. Why are we celebrating on a day of judgment ?
Understanding the Machzor
A. Do I know the meaning of the Shmoneh Esrei of Rosh HaShanah?
B. Do I know the meaning of the Musaf Prayer of Rosh HaShanah?
C. Do I know the meaning behind Malchiyos, Shofaros, and Zichronos?
D. Do I know the basic meaning of the Piyutim (Special Holiday Liturgical Songs) of Rosh HaShanah?
E. Do I know .how long each part of the davening takes so I know how to pace myself during the day?
F. Do I know the structure of the overall davening of the day?
3. TSOM GEDALIA
A. What is Tsom Gedalia all about?
B. What is the connection between it and the 10 days of Teshuva?
4. THE TEN DAYS OF TESHUVAH
A. What is my specific responsibility for the 10 days of teshuva?
B. How does it differ from my responsibility during Elul?
A. How do I do teshuva?
B. Do I know the different steps for teshuva?
C. Do I know the prerequisites for the steps to teshuva?
D. How do I really make a commitment never to do something again?
E. What do I do if every year I find myself making commitments and then breaking them the day after Yom aaKippur? How do I do teshuva if I get discouraged by this process?
F. How do I make a plan for the upcoming year?
G. How do I avoid self-hate during the teshuva process?
5. YOM KIPPUR
A. What happened on Yom Kippur in the Chumash?
B. What is the meaning behind Yom Kippur?
C. How does the fast contribute to the meaning of the day?
D. What is the connection between Sefer Yonah and Yom Kippur?
Understanding the Machzor
A. What are the Ashamnu and Al Chet confessions and do I have meaningful pshat on each?
B. Do I know the Shmoneh Esrei of Yom Kippur?
C. Do I know the Mussaf Prayer of Yom Kippur?
D. Do I know the basic meaning of teh piyutim (Special Holiday Liturgical Songs) of Yom Kippur?
E. Do I know how long each part of the davening takes so I know how to pace myself during the day?
F. Why do we read about the 10 Martyrs on this day?
G. Advanced : Have I learned the basics of the Temple Service on this day?
A. In general, what is the meaning of the holiday of Succos ?
B. What is the relationship between Succos, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur?
C. Do I know the halachos of lulav and esrog?
D. Do I know the meaning behind the lulav and esrog?
E. Do I know the halachos of building a succah?
F. Do I know the meaning of the succah?
G. What is the meaning behind a Simchas Beis HaShoeva?
Hoshanahs and Hoshanah Rabah
A. Why do we say Hoshanahs?
B. Do I know the meaning of all the different Hoshanahs that we say all week long?
C. What is the day of Hoshanah Rabah all about?
D. Why do some people stay up all night learning?
7. SHEMINI ATSERES
A. What is Shmini Atseres?
B. What is Simchas Torah?
C. What is the connection between Shmini Atseres and Simchas Torah?
D. Why is Shmini Atseres a holiday by itself disconnected from Succos?
Once you have completed the self-evaluation quiz, you are ready to start. Choose some of the topics that are particularly interesting to you and begin to get some answers. Make sure you take good notes and save them for next year. Maybe set up a chavrusa with someone who has researched some of the issues you are working on. Or ask your a local Rabbi what would be best to read in order to get the answers to your questions.