Rosh Hashanah….is the Jewish New Year, the birthday of mankind, when we ask the Almighty to write us in the Book of Life! This year Rosh Hashanah 2017 will begin on the evening of Wednesday, September 20th and will end on the evening of Friday, September 22nd. Here are some very fascinating factoids on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah:
The Shofar (the Jewish Horn): On Rosh Hashanah, it is a mitzvah to hear the shofar – a curved ram’s horn.
The Shofar is blown with three distinct sounds:
Tekiah: One long straight blast – the coronation of God as King.
Shevarim: 3 wailing sounds – the sobbing heart yearning to connect.
Teruah: 9 quick blasts – a spiritual alarm clock.
Keep in mind; the shofar is not blown when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) and the custom is to blow a total of 100 blasts.
Preparations: To begin the year with a clean slate, before Rosh Hashanah we ask forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged during the year and perform “Hatarat Nedarim” annulling of vows.
Do a “spiritual accounting”:
1, Achievements: What did I accomplish this past year?
2, Efficiency: Am I careful not to waste precious time?
3, Community: Am I involved in contributing to bettering the world?
4, Forward: What are my goals and aspirations for the coming year?
Festive Foods: A round challah (a Jewish bread) is used – symbolizing fullness and completion. In addition to as we dip an apple in honey – symbolizing our prayer for a sweet new year.
We eat other foods that symbolize our hope for in the coming year; for example, eat a pomegranate and say: “May it be your will, God, that our merits increase as the seeds of the pomegranate.” (See the machzor for a full listing)
Synagogue Services: On Rosh Hashanah, we use a special prayer book called a “machzor” and the curtain on the ark is changed to a white one, to symbolize cleansing of our mistakes.
We greet others with: “SHANA TOVA!” meaning, “A GOOD YEAR!”
In the “Amidah” prayer of Musaf, we say three special blessings:
Malchiot (Kingship): Recognizing God as the ultimate source of everything.
Zichronot (Remembrance): God is aware of all of our actions.
Shofrot: God is the King, to whom we connect from the depths of our soul.
The “Tashlich” prayer – the symbolic casting away our mistakes – is said on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah by a pool of water that preferably contains fish.