Rosh HaShanah
Off the Wall, September 25,
2014

Happy New Year to all those whom are in and from surrounding communities who are Jewish! Yes, today, September 25th, is the beginning of the two-day festivity ending tomorrow evening. According to Judaism.about.com, this occasion begins “during the month of Tishrei and occurs ten days before Yom Kippur. Together, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Yamim Nora’im, which means the Days of Awe in Hebrew. In English, they are often referred to as the High Holy Days.”

From www.chabad.org, it states, “It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind’s role in God’s world, man’s first sin and his repentance thereof.”

According to the first website, “This is the day Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt, but also the month God created the world. Hence another way to think about Rose Hashanah is as the birthday of the world.”

It goes on to state, “Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days, God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. As a result, during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (and in the days leading up to them) Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year. In this way, Rosh Hashanah is all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person,” it said.

In addition, www.chabad.org also states, this is a time period whereby it is determined “who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched, who shall fall and who shall rise. This is the day Jews proclaim God is King of the Universe.”

The sounding of the shofar or ram’s horn is the central observance of this holiday. “It represents the trumpet blast of a people’s coronation of their kind. The cry of the shofar calls to mind the fact of the necessity to repent of one’s sinfulness.

On the first day, it is customary to greet fellow Jews using the Hebrew words, “L’Shanah Tovah,” which is translated as “For a good year,” or “Have a good year.”

May it be noted that Rosh Hashanah is the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.” Still, the shofar has significance. “It recalled the ‘Binding of Isaac’ which also occurred on Rosh Hashanah, in which a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to God.”

On hundred blasts are sounded over the course of the liturgical services.

Another custom is tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water.
Additional Rosh Hashanah observances (www.Chabad.org) include: “a) eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, and other special food symbolic of the New Year’s blessings. b.) blessing one another with words ‘Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim,’ ‘May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.’ c.)Tashlich, a special prayer said near a body of water (an ocean, river, pond, etc.), in evocation of the verse, ‘And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.’ b.)And with every major Jewish holiday, after candle lighting and prayers we recite Kiddush and make a blessing on the challah,” it said.

“Challah, according to www.myjewishlearning.com, is braided Sabbath bread that is “surrounded by folklore and tradition and loaded with symbolism.” It begins by explaining that “On festive occasions a blessing is said over two loaves, symbolizing the two portions of the manna that was distributed on Fridays to the children of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt. The breads are covered on the table by a decorative challah cover or a white napkin, which represents the dew that collected on the manna in the morning. Poppy and sesame seeds sprinkled on the bread also symbolize the manna that fell from heaven.”

Each size and shape of the bread has a meaning. For example, braided ones look like arms intertwined which symbolize love. If there are only three braids, that stands for truth, peace and justice. And sweet challahs baked with honey or raisins during the festive season are said to bring joy and happiness.

Additional foods eaten are pomegranates, spinach, leeks and black-eyed peas.

If you see someone of the Jewish faith, wish him or her ‘Happy New Year.’ Remember, Jesus Christ, our Brother, was formally Jewish before the Christian faith was organized.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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