Kavvanah before Shofar Blowing on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul for Rosh haShanah la-Behemah (the Jewish New Year’s Day for Animals), by Aharon Varady

The text of this ritual shofar blowing for Rosh Chodesh Elul and Rosh Hashanah Labehemot developed as part of annual ceremony taking place at the dairy barn on the campus of the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center beginning in 2009 under the auspices of Elat Chayyim and the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship. The ceremony was co-developed by Rabbi Jill Hammer and Sarah Chandler in 2009, with elements added by Aharon Varady beginning in 2012. . . .

אַ ײִדיש ליד, צער בעלי־חיים | Tsaar Baalei Ḥayyim [It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature, a song in Yiddish

“Tsaar Balei Ḥayyim” ([It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature), source unknown. Many thanks to Tiferet Zimmern-Kahan for recording the niggun for the song and to Naftali Ejdelman and The Jewish Daily Forward for providing the lyrics. . . .

הגדה לסדר אלף באלול, ראש השנה לבעלי־החיים (זנגביל)‏ | Haggadah for the Alef b’Elul Seder, the New Year’s Day for Animals (Ginger House 2013)

ראש השנה לבעלי־החיים – על מה ולמה?‏ מקורו של ראש השנה לבעלי־חיים הוא באותה משנה שבה המקור לט”ו בשבט: “ארבעה ראשי שנים הם: באחד בניסן ראש השנה למלכים ולרגלים. באחד באלול ראש השנה למעשר בהמה; רבי אלעזר ורבי שמעון אומרין, באחד בתשרי. באחד בתשרי ראש השנה לשנים לשמיטים וליובלות, ולנטיעה ולירקות. באחד בשבט ראש השנה לאילן, כדברי בית שמאי; בית הלל אומרין בחמישה עשר בו”. (משנה ראש השנה א, א).‏ . . .

The Council of All Beings, an activity for all ages on the Jewish New Year’s Day for Animals, Rosh haShanah la-Behemah, on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul

Domesticated animals (behemot) are distinguished from ḥayot, wild animals in having been bred to rely upon human beings for their welfare. As the livelihood and continued existence of wild animals increasingly depends on the energy, food, and land use decisions of human beings, the responsibility for their care is coming into the purview of our religious responsibilities as Jews under the mitsvah of tsa’ar baalei ḥayyim — mindfullness of the suffering of all living creatures in our decisions and behavior. Rosh haShanah la-Behemah is the festival where we are reminded of this important mitsvah at the onset of the month in which we imagine ourselves to be the flock of a god upon whose welfare we rely. The “Council of All Beings” is an activity that can help us understand and reflect upon the needs of the flock of creatures that already rely upon us for their welfare. . . .


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