Fall represents new beginnings. On the Jewish calendar, September marks the new year and the high holidays and we are called to reflect and set intentions for the coming year.
As the leaves turn orange, yellow and red, September 22 marks the first official day of autumn.
Here is a collection of Jewish quotes, blessings, and readings to help you get into the cozy fall spirit.
The blessing for firsts (Shehecheyanu)
The Shehecheyanu is recited the first time you do something each Jewish calendar year and to mark joyous occasions.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.
Keep the candle burning
“As long as the candle is still burning, it is still possible to accomplish and to mend.”
— Rabbi Yisrael Salanter
Blessing over the Sun
The Birkat Hachamah is perhaps the rarest blessing in all of Judaism. It is recited only once every 28 years, when the sun is at a precise spot in the sky that replicates the spot some Jewish people believe it was in when created. The blessing is the same as said upon seeing other natural wonders.
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, who makes the works of creation.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, עוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, oseh maasei v’reishit.
“The world is new to us every morning—and every man should believe he is reborn each day.”
— Baal Shem Tov
Blessing over beauty
This can apply to beauty in all its forms and interpretations. Beautiful trees, animals or people alike.
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, that such as these are in Your world.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעולָם שככה לו בעולמו
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, shekacha lo beolamo.
On the natural world
Nature is not the final word, for nature itself was created by a being who stands outside it and who, by making us in his image, gave us the power to stand outside it.
– Rabbi Dr. Lord Jonathan Sacks
Spending time outdoors
“Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone; May it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and the grasses, among all growing things and there may I be alone and enter into prayer to talk with the one that I belong to. Know that every shepherd and shepherdess has a unique nigun (melody) for each of the grasses and for each place where they herd. For each and every grass has its own song and from these songs of the grasses the shepherds compose their songs.”
– Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Lekutai Moharan Tanina 63
How not to fear
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
– Psalms 46:1-3
Prayer for warmth
As the days get colder with the changing seasons, Rabbi David Wirtschafter invites us to remember that not everyone with a home can afford to turn up the thermostat. Not to mention, not everyone who can afford to turn up the thermostat is spared from power outages or system failures.
Here’s a prayer for our warmth on chilly nights:
Help us O Source of light and heat to share our warmth with others.
May we never be too cool to be bothered with someone else’s sorrows.
May we never turn a cold shoulder to those who cry for help.
When warmth and gentleness are needed let us not be cold and hard as ice.
When fires of hatred and violence burn let us not be frozen with fear.
When fragments of shattered hopes fly through the night air like shards of broken glass may we stand before the Source of Oneness and try yet again to restore the wholeness and holiness we seek.
May this be our blessing and let us say: Amen.
Sparks of light
In everything you do you encounter sparks full of life and light, aspiring to rise toward the heights. You help them and they help you.
– Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook
The Heat of Autumn
A poem by Jewish poet, Jane Hirshfield
The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
Pray for Rain
The prayer for rain (tefilat geshem) is recited beginning on Shemini Atzeret since the day marks the start of the rainy season in Israel.
Originally Published Sep 24 2021 01:39AM EDT