Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown Sept. 16th. The following is a short piece from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews website. Please got to http://www.ifcj.org/site/PageNavigator/eng/rabbi/ask_rabbi/ask_rabbi_rosh_hashanah2 to see the original posting.

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Today, let’s talk in depth about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is very different from the secular New Year. It is not characterized by hilarity or celebrating. Instead, it is a holy day marked by intense moral and spiritual introspection for, on this day, each Jew considers himself a plaintiff appealing for his life before the Supreme Judge and Ruler of the universe.

Although the mood pervading Rosh Hashanah is one of solemnity, it is also one of trust in a God Who is a merciful and beneficent Father, desires our repentance, and is eager to grant forgiveness. In the words of the prophet Ezekiel 18:21, But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Ezekiel 18:23, Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? Ezekiel 18:31  Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit:…

While the theme of Rosh Hashanah is atonement for sin, the blowing of the shofar – an instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal – is the main ritual of the day. The Bible refers to the festival of Rosh Hashanah as “the day of the blowing of the shofar.” As it states in Numbers 29:1, And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And Leviticus 23:24-25, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

There are three distinct types of blasts sounded on the shofar – a long, drawn-out sound called tekiah, a broken plaintive sound called shevarim, and a series of sharp, wailing, staccato sounds called teruah. A total of one hundred blasts are sound on each of the two days of Rosh Hashanah, followed by the congregational recitation of biblical verses reminding them of their covenant with God.

Rosh Hashanah reminds us that we are accountable to God for our lives and how we choose to live them.  No matter what we have done, He is faithful to forgive us when we acknowledge our sin and turn from it.

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