“This is a joyful time for millions of people around the world. But Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also opportunities for reflection. They represent a chance to take stock of our lives and look forward to the coming year with clear eyes and renewed purpose.”
[President Barack Obama in a video message sent wishes for a sweet year of health, happiness, and peace]
2nd of Tishrei, 5773 (September 18, 2012)
Rosh Hashanah / ראש השנה
Literally “head of the year”, is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the High Holidays or Yamim Noraim (“Days of Awe”), celebrated ten days before Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. It is described in the Torah as יום תרועה (Yom Teru’ah, a day of sounding the Shofar).
The Month Of Elul
What is Elul? During the exodus from Egypt, Moses ascended Mount Sinai in a total of three times. The first time was to receive the Torah. The second time was to ask G-d for mercy, after the Jewish people sinned by worshiping the golden calf. And so, on the first day of Elul, the month preceding Tishrei, Moses rose up for the third time to summon G-d’s mercy so that the people could achieve reconciliation before the most High. He stayed for forty days until Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, during which G-d purified the people from their sins. Since then, these days are marked by Divine grace, and it is also in these days that our sincere prayers will win favor with the Creator.
Observance of Elul
• Each weekday morning the blowing of the Shofar, except on the last day of Elul, Erev Rosh Hashanah as is. [The shofar blasts after the Torah Reading are called “Tekiot M’yushav.”]
• Psalm 27 is added to morning and afternoon prayer until Hoshana Rabba.
• It is customary to give additional Tzedaka (charity), each working day.
• From the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah Erev, we read the Selichot, which are special prayers of repentance.
• Elul is an appropriate time to reflect on one’s actions and the approach we had during the past year, and to decide to correct our shortcomings.
What is Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah is when G-d completed the creation, through the creation of Adam, the first man. Adams’ first act was to appoint the Almighty to be King of the Universe. He urged all beings by saying: “Come, let us worship and bow and kneel before G-d, our Creator.”
Each Rosh Hashanah we also designate G-d to King and reaffirm our allegiance to him, and also our commitment to serve him.
On Rosh Hashanah, G-d reviewes and considers our relationship with Him, and — like in the original Rosh Hashanah, the world is created again.
During the first evening, we exchange the traditional blessing “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
Our scribes explain that on Rosh Hashanah, we are judged by G-d “like a flock of sheep for the shepherd.” If we are worthy enough, we will be inscribed in the “Book of Life.” Ten days later, on Yom Kippur, the book is sealed. Through our repentance, prayer and charity, judgment can be mitigated and we can earn G-d’s blessing in the form of health, wellbeing and prosperity in the coming year.
Observance of Rosh Hashanah
During the daytime on Rosh Hashanah, we listen to at least the first of the prescribed shofar blasts. Shofar, which is the oldest wind instrument, is actually a ram’s horn. The sound of the blasts from the shofar has many meanings. Among others, the shofar has following symbolic meanings:
– It proclaims G-d’s coronation as King of the Universe
– It urges us to repent of our sins and return to G-d
– It reminds us of the shofar blasts that sounded at mount Sinai, when we received G-d’s commandments for all time
– It represents the simple, original cry of our soul’s innermost depths
– It gives a glimpse of the great shofar that G-d will let sound at the coming of the Messiah, the Messiah who will lead us out of the diaspora to the Holy Land. May it be done quickly in our days.
On the first day of Rosh Hashanah (or the second day, if the first day falls on Shabbat,) after the afternoon prayer, we visit a watercourse or a pond with fish to read the Tashlich prayer. The prayer “gets rid of” our sins. As the fish are dependent on the water, so we are dependent on G-d’s providence. The eyes of fish are never closed, symbolizing how G-d constantly are watching over us.
• Traditional food
It is customary to eat foods symbolizing sweetness, blessings and abundance. We dip the challah bread in honey and eat apples dipped in honey during the first evening. After the blessing, we add the words “May it be Your will to let the new year be a good and sweet year.” Our custom is also to eat fish, pomegranats and sweet carrots.
[Source: Chabad Lubavitch of Stockholm, Sweden]
© 2012 Jonathan Axelsson
אתר הבית של יונתן