Rosh Hashanah kicks off Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. It is more than just the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah takes place over two days, because this holiday is too important to only have twenty-four hours devoted to celebrating it. There are several meanings to this important holiday.
Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Shofar Blowing.
The shofar, or ram’s horn, was blown to announce the coronation of the people’s king. Blowing the shofar marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and the beginning of the 10-days called the High Holy Days.
During the Rosh Hashanah service, the shofar is blown one hundred times. It is a reminder of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to fulfill God’s command. In the end, God ordered Abraham to substitute a sacrificial lamb in place of Isaac. That did not change Abraham’s unbending will to do as God asked. The shofar needs to be blown during the daytime hours on both days of Rosh Hashanah. The exception to the blowing of the shofar on both days is if the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, the seventh day of the week, which is divinely-ordained as the day of rest. Rosh Hashanah during 2009 falls on Shabbat, meaning the shofar will only be blown on the second day of the holiday.
This holiday is also known as the Day of Remembrance. During Rosh Hashanah, time is spent reviewing the history of the Jewish people and praying for Israel. There is a special prayer book used during the High Holy Days. Called the Machzor, this prayer book is used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Stories and readings of Jewish people take place over the two days.
Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment.
It is a day of examining past deeds and asking for forgiveness of their sins. It is common for Jews to visit a body of water, containing live fish, to cast away their sins into the river. The body of water can be an ocean, river, pond, or even a stream. This happens on the first day of Rosh Hashanah following the afternoon services. A special prayer called Tashlich is said near the body of water. By symbolically casting your sins and leaving any shortcomings behind you, it will allow you to start the New Year with a clean slate. Rosh Hashanah is the time to look back on the mistakes of the past year and plan changes to make in the New Year.
It marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year.
In the creation of the world, God created Man on the sixth day. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the birthday of the world on this day. When literally translated, Rosh Hashanah means “first of the year,” or “head of the year.”
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated with holiday greeting cards, special prayers, and sweet, festive foods. It is customary for families to come together during this holiday and celebrate together. The first night’s meal starts with apples dipped in honey. The bread during this time is also dipped in honey. Sweet foods symbolize wishes for a sweet New Year.
Rosh Hashanah is a holiday full of meaning for the Jewish people.
Marking the Jewish New Year is a celebration of mankind. The special relationship between God and man is emphasized with the observance of this special time.