Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year) begins in the evening of Wednesday, September 4, 2013, and ends the evening of Friday, September 6, 2013. It ushers in the Hebrew year 5774.
Today I am quoting Rabbi Brad Hirschfield who published this just today:
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, isn’t just for Jews. It is a Jewish celebration to be sure; one with roots going back to the Hebrew Bible, but it celebrates something fundamental to all human beings – the need for second chances.
At its core lays the teaching that God both gives second chances and invites us to do the same – to ourselves and to others. And after all is said and done, who doesn’t need a second chance somewhere in their lives?
The day is believed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of self-reflection and and repentance that culminates in Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement.
Jews around the world will be celebrating the two-day holiday in synagogues and around festive dinner tables featuring symbolic foods like dates, apples, honey and pomegranates to signify the wish for sweetness in the year to come.Each of us has something we wish we could do over, start fresh or finish differently. Don’t you? Rosh Hashanah promises us that we can transcend the past and get that second chance that each of us needs in at least some part of our lives – whether you are Jewish or not.
By celebrating the birth of the world and of humanity, not the birth of the Jewish nation or of the first Jew, Rosh Hashanah celebrates that whatever particular faith we follow, we share a common origin and destiny. Part of that destiny is the promise of a second chance, even if it’s our hundredth one!
Regardless of our religion, it is our spiritual growth that determines how much progress we make in this life. This kind of growth depends on the maintenance of a living spiritual connection and on the continuous bearing of spiritual fruit. For those of Christian faith, the taking of the sacrament each week in church and renewing our covenants to Heavenly Father. We need to foster a hunger to know God and to be like Him and like His only Begotten Son. At every new day, new hour, new year… we can work on achieving a whole hearted purpose to do the will of Heavenly Father, to find greater meaning in service and in contemplation. The value of these things will deepen in us individually a far more coherent understanding of ourselves.
Religion can only progress so far, it is a springboard from which we are meant to ascend to a complete understanding of our connectedness to God.
Rosh ha Shanah (head of the year) falls once a year during the month of Tishrei and occurs ten days before the Day of Atonement (teshuvah) known as Yom Kippur. The Hebrew calendar begins with the month of Nissan (when it’s believed the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt) but the month of Tishrei is believed to be the month in which God created the world. Rosh HaShanah can be thought of as the birthday of the world.
On Rosh HaShanah it is customary to greet people with “L’ShanahTovah,” or “May you have a good year.” This greeting refers to the belief that a person’s fate for the coming year is decided during the High Holy Days. The shofar is blown because God asked man to do this in the former Jerusalem Temples to offer our sacrifice for Him and blessings, along with verses to be recited in thankfulness to God and remembrance that God is our king, that He will remember his Chosen people (Num 10:10)
Many people attend synagogue, involving special prayers for the holiday. The shofar is blown, calling us to prayer and repentance. And on the first day, some people perform the tashlikh ceremony, visiting a running body of water in order to cast away sins. But it is not the observances that really matter. They are only outward expressions of an inward devotion. It is that special inward devotion, that desire of ours to belong to the Creator, that must generate the energy we need to have a spiritual connection.
To find out more about this High Holy Day, visit some of the sites available on the web:
http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/roshhashanah.htm, www.judaism101.org, www.chabad.org.