January 23, 2019

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Rosh Hashanah with Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein

Our special guest today is Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, founder and Director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein has held academic posts at Tel Aviv University and has served as director of the Center for the Study of Rabbinic Thought, Beit Morasha College, Jerusalem. Ordained a rabbi in 1977, he received his Ph.D. from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1986 in the area of Rabbinic thought. From 1989 to 1999, he was a member of the Shalom Hartman Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem, where he also served as director for interreligious affairs. Stanford University Press published his The Sinner and the Amnesiac: The Rabbinic Invention of Elisha ben Abuya and Eleazar ben Arach in 2000, and the Littman Library published his co-edited volume Jewish Theology and World Religions. Several other collective research projects and edited volumes complement more than fifty articles, published in such scholarly journals as Harvard Theological Review, Journal for the Study of Judaism, Journal of Literature and Theology, Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Ecumenism, and Studies in Interreligious Dialogue.

Our discussion focuses on the special role of humility in the core of the Amidah section of the Rosh Hashanah service, specifically in the following verses:

Now, therefore, O Lord our God, impose thine awe upon all thy works, and thy dread upon all that thou hast created, that all works may fear thee and all creatures prostrate themselves before thee, that they may all form a single band to do thy will with a perfect heart, even as we know, O Lord our God, that dominion is thine, strength is in thy hand, and might in thy right hand, and that thy name is to be feared above all that thou hast created.

Give then glory, O Lord, unto thy people, praise to them that fear thee, hope to them that seek thee, and free speech to them that wait for thee, joy to thy land, gladness to thy city, a flourishing horn unto David thy servant, and a clear shining light unto the son of Jesse, thine anointed, speedily in our days.