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What is Rosh Hashanah? It is a Jewish holiday full of self-reflection, prayer, symbolic foods, and celebration.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish celebration of the new year. On the Hebrew calendar, it takes place on the first two days of the seventh month. There can be confusion as to why the new year holiday takes place in the seventh month. Historians trace this debate back to the holiday’s origins. It is possible that Rosh Hashanah does not come from Jewish traditions. Therefore, if you want to learn more about the Rosh Hashanah festivities and the reasoning behind its date, then keep reading!
In this article, you can discover the following topics:
- * An overview of Rosh Hashanah
- * The history of Rosh Hashanah
- * How to celebrate Rosh Hashanah
- * Why the Jewish new year occurs in the seventh month
An Overview of Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah takes place on the first and second days of the Hebrew month, Tishrei. It begins at sundown on the day before Tishrei begins. The holiday ends at dusk on the second day of Tishrei. Since the Hebrew calendar does not comply with the Gregorian calendar, there is no exact annual date. The date changes each year, usually occurring around the end of September or the beginning of October.
From Hebrew to English, Rosh Hashanah translates to “first of the year.” Around the world, people observe the new year on January first with parties and, frequently, wild celebrations. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish new year, but it is not necessarily the same as the secular new year. Instead, it is more of a holy holiday to commemorate the anniversary of the creation of the universe. Jews also take time to reflect on themselves, their actions, and their relationship with God.
After Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Repentance begin. During these ten days, Jews reflect and make changes in their lives to improve themselves. Rosh Hashanah still celebrates the completion of a year, but it also allows for Jews to reflect on their lives. The Ten Days of Repentance end with the holiday Yom Kippur. This is when Jews pray for repentance so that God may forgive them for their misdeeds.
These first few weeks of the seventh month play a significant part in Jewish holidays. It consists of three significant commemorations that focus on self-reflection and self-improvement. Nevertheless, these holy days begin with Rosh Hashanah.
The History of Rosh Hashanah
Many of Judaism’s religious holidays come from the Torah. However, there is no mention of Rosh Hashanah in this foundational book of holy scripture. The Bible makes some indication of this holiday under different names. Still, the Mishna- a religious book compiling Jewish oral tradition- first makes a note of Rosh Hashanah after its publication around 200 C.E.
Rosh Hashanah did not become a practiced holiday until around the sixth century C.E. Still, there is speculation as to how it became one of the most significant holidays on the Jewish calendar.
Many Jewish celebrations and observances stem from biblical history. Often, these stories would lead to God commanding all practicers of Judaism to recognize particular anniversaries and events. One of the most prominent stories that many Jewish holidays derive from is the story of Exodus, when Moses lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the land promised by God, eventually leading to the reception of the Ten Commandments.
How to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah
Although Rosh Hashanah does not come from Jewish origins, it has been a practiced holiday by Jews for thousands of years. So, there are still lots of ancient traditions.
Each year on Rosh Hashanah, Jews take time away from work and fill the two days with family, friends, and God.
One of the primary activities of Rosh Hashanah is going to the synagogue. Jews hear lengthened liturgies and special prayers that focus on the past, the future, and the presence of God. A notable aspect of the services on Rosh Hashanah is the shofar. This is a ram’s horn that people blow into like a trumpet. The sounding of the shofar is a crucial element to Rosh Hashanah. It reminds Jews to repent and to remember the sovereignty of God.
Jews spend much of the holiday at the synagogue. When all the services finish, families go home to a festive meal. It begins with lighting two candles and the preparation of symbolic foods.
Challah is a traditional circular bread that Jews eat for Rash Hashanah. Its round shape represents the never-ending circle of life. The addition of honey to foods is symbolic of the desire for a sweet new year. The most popular foods to dip in honey are apples and challah.
Why the Jewish New Year Occurs in the Seventh Month
Many people wonder why the celebration of the Jewish new year takes place in the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.
According to the Torah, God told the Israelites to begin tracking time with calendars, starting with the first month of Nissan. This is one of the reasons that Rosh Hashanah does not occur at the beginning of the year. Theorists also say that it is because the national history of Judaism began in Nissan- when God gave the Israelites the Torah. As a result, the month of Nissan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, marks the beginning of the Hebrew year.
All in all, the Torah makes no mention of Rosh Hashanah, and the sacred holiday of Passover takes place at the beginning of the year. It would be difficult to adjust the calendar for a younger holiday. Even though Rosh Hashanah is a relatively new celebration, it still holds an important place in what it means to be Jewish.