Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is considered by Jews to be the “Jewish New Year. “ It is also referred to as the birth of the universe. It is the day when God brought Adam and Even into existence. It is held within the first two days of the Jewish New Year, which is Tishrei one and two.

The Importance of Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is very important to Jews because it is start of a New Year. This means the intentions one sets beginning on this day will influence the following year. Rosh Hashanah is a day of prayers, when Jews ask God to provide them with blessings, prosperity and peace. It is also a day where they proclaim God to be the master of the universe. The continuation of the universe is dependent on God’s desire for it, which Jews believe is renewed annually during Rosh Hashanah when they accept his divine role.

Activities Which Are Performed During Rosh Hashanah

During Rosh Hashanah the Shofar can be heard, which is the horn of a ram. It is used during morning, unless the starting day is during Shabbat. In this case it will be heard on the following day. Thirty shofar blasts will be made during the morning reading of the Torah, and seventy more blasts will be made during Musaf (the “additional” Service which replaces animal sacrifices in the diaspora.) The blasting of the shofar symbolizes the blast of a trumpet which is made when a king is coroneted, which in this case is God. Its sound is also a message to Jews to repent.

 

When Jews meet each other on Rosh Hashanah they will use greetings such as “Leshana tovah tikatevu” which means to be sealed and inscribed for a prosperous year. Candles, which are a staple of all Jewish holidays, are also important during Rosh Hashanah. They are lit in the evening and the proper blessings are recited. Tashlich occurs during the first midday of Rosh Hashanah so long as it isn’t Shabbat, and during Tashlich Jews  go to nearby waters such as an ocean, pond, lake or river and will carry out a ceremony in which their sins are symbolically cast into it by throwing in pieces of bread.

Prayer During Rosh Hashanah

During Rosh Hashanah Jews spend most of the day in the synagogue. The prayers conducted in the afternoon and evening are akin to other Jewish holidays but with liturgical additions, and the Morning Prayers are distinct and much longer. The Jews use a “Machzor,” or special prayer book which is comprised of all the Torah readings and prayers for that day.

 

The Torah is read each morning and during day one of Rosh Hashanah Jews will read about the birth of Isaac and the exile of Ishmael and Hagar. During the following morning they will read about Abraham and how he almost sacrificed Isaac. The blowing of the shofar is important because it represents the devotion that Abraham showed to God.

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