So our Fall Festivals, or High Holy Days, are almost upon us. Here we are past halfway through the month of Elul and fast approaching the 1st of Tishrei, the first of our Feasts. So here is the question—is that first holy day Yom Teruah, Feast of Trumpets, or is it Rosh Hashanah, New Year? The answer is YES! The 1st of Tishrei is, in fact, both of these things, together, on the same day.
In Torah we read of Yom Teruah in Leviticus 23: 23-24:
ADONAI spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to Bnei-Yisrael, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you are to have a Shabbat rest, a memorial of blowing (shofarot), a holy convocation.
Now we are totally confused, right? If the 1st of Tishrei is the first day of the SEVENTH month, how exactly is that New Year or Rosh Hashanah? Well, it turns out that the Hebrew calendar has more than one New Year. The 1st of Nisan, in the Spring, is the New Year of the spiritual calendar, but the 1st of Tishrei is the “civil” New Year. It is no different than our New Year being in January, but the fiscal year for many businesses starting in June—and, in the northern hemisphere, the “new” School Year starts in August.
In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah is traditionally considered the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve and marks the start of a new calendar year for the Hebrew, or Jewish, calendar. It is the New Year for people, animals, and legal contracts. It is a time for new beginnings.
The Torah does not have a lot of instruction for what is to be done to celebrate this particular day. But one thing is very clear—it is a day for blowing of the shofar or trumpet. One of the highlights of a Rosh Hashanah service is the Sounding of the Shofar in a set pattern of long, short, and staccato blasts. It is considered a mitzvah, a commandment, for all individuals to hear the sound of the shofar on this Festival day.
Of course, it could hardly be a Feast Day without some special foods. Rosh Hashanah is the day to eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize our desire for a sweet New Year to come. Challah is prepared in a round loaf to symbolize the cycle of the year.
So remember, in only a day or two, we will be wishing each other Shanah Tovah, “have a Good Year”! Join us for services to hear the shofar blow!