Columns - 2009

    Rosh HashAARRRnah - Talk Like a Pirate Day and Rosh Hashanah collide

    by Doug Brook
    Southern Jewish Life columnist

    (Facebook extra, September 18, 2009)

    This year is a rare confluence of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Talk Like a Pirate Day. Even more rare, it falls on Shabbat, the Day of Rest, where "Rest" is defined as sitting on wooden pews for three hours and then recovering all afternoon.

    The long-lost, recently discovered Mishnah tractate Bava Gump provides meaningful insight into this rare confluence, and its laws (hAARRHHlachah) and custom (minhAARRRHHHHg). The following is the merest sample of the extensive halachic quirks for this special day:

    • Rosh HashAARRRRNah is the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentence, the Asseret Yemai TeshuvAARRRRHHH.
    • Instead of the normal Shabbat or High Holy Day prayerbooks, we use a MachzAAARRRRHHH.
    • The Torah reading comes from the usual pAAARRRHHHshah, retelling of Abraham when he lived in the land of Can'non.
    • While normally the penitential prayers of Rosh Hashanah are not recited on Shabbat, on Rosh HashAARRRnah they are recited in their special forms. For example:
      • AARRHHHshamnu, BAAARRRHHHgadnu... DebAARRRHHHnu Dofi
      • Ki AARRRHHHnu ARRRRHHHmecha
      • AAARRHHHvinu Malkeinu
    • When blowing the shofAARRRRHHHH, we hear TekiyAARRRHHH, ShevAARRRRRHHHim, T'ruAAAARRRRRH, and finally TekiyAARRRGGHHH GedolAAAARRRRRHHHHHHHH. Unfortunately, because it falls on Shabbat this year this will not be heard, except in congregations near the Caribbean.
    • All readings, both Torah and Haftarah, come from cannonized parts of the Bible.
    • Synagogues that display flags are required to fly the Jolly Macher, a special pirate flag that includes a Skullcap and Jewish-Star-bones.
    • During TAARRRHHHshlich, a ritual in which we symbolically cast away our sins near a body of water, the most grievous sinners present are non-symbolically ordered to walk the plankton.
    • Because it's shabbat, you are not allowed to drive to synagogue in your cAAARRRRHHHH.
    • If the sermon runs too long, the rabbi is decapitated. (Note: In many congregations, this is often the practice on any normal Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah.)
    • If the annual campaign plea runs too long, the president is decapitated and then forced to walk the plank. In that order.
    • If someone called up to lead a small part of the service starts opining on their own, he is given the hook.

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.