Rosh HaShanna – The Jewish New Year

  • The Jewish people are celebrating their New Year’s Day this week.
  • Rosh HaShanna the Jewish New Year is the day in Biblical history when Adam the first man was created.
  • On Rosh Hashanna is sounded the Ram’s horn in conjunction with prayers for a good year.r

Israel and Jews in the whole world will be celebrating their New Year’s day on Monday September 30, 2019. Two days are celebrated in which it is forbidden to do work.  The Nation of Israel honors Rosh HaShanna as a national holiday.  The observance of Rosh HaShanna is mentioned in the Bible Number 29: 1-5 “ In the seventh month the first of the month is a holy day where all work is forbidden called the day of the blasting of the Shofar the ram’s horn.”  There were specific sacrifices that were made on Rosh Hashanna in the holy temple.

A shofar is an ancient musical horn typically made of a ram’s horn, used for Jewish religious purposes. Like the modern bugle, the shofar lacks pitch-altering devices, with all pitch control done by varying the player’s embouchure. The shofar is blown in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and at the very end of Yom Kippur, and is also blown every weekday morning in the month of Elul running up to Rosh Hashanah.

According to Biblical history Rosh Hashanna is the day that Adam the first man was created which was the sixth day of creation. The bible reads, “And God said let us make man Adam in our image and form who will have dominion over the whole earth.”  And God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him male and female.”  Rosh Hashanna is special because God the king of the universe now had a representative in the world Adam.  Man was chosen to represent God in the world.

The day Rosh Hashanna falls out in the seventh month of the year of the lunar Jewish calendar. The first month of the Jewish Calendar is in the springtime, the time of the holiday of Passover. The day of Rosh Hashanna is called the day of judgement. On this day according to scripture is determined the blessings for the whole year for health, livelihood, and all necessities of life. Therefore it is especially important to take advantage of the opportunity to make special prayers on Rosh Hashanna for a good year.

The prayers of Rosh Hashanna are organized in the Mahzor the Jewish High Holiday prayer book. The holiday prayers start at nighttime the first night of Rosh HaShanna.  In the morning special prayers are recited in conjunction with the blowing of the Shofar the Ram’s horn. The use of the Rams horn in prayer gives special power to the prayers to overcome all obstacles on their way to heaven.

On the second day of Rosh Hashanna are repeated again these prayers in conjunction with the blowing of the Shofar.

In the last twenty five years from the time of the fall of the Soviet Union opened up the way for Jews throughout the world to make their Rosh Hashanna prayers in the city of Uman in the Ukraine where is buried the saint Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov who lived in the Ukraine until the year 1810 was a grandson of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov the founder of Chassidism. Chassidism is a messianic movement in Judaism emphasizing the study of the Kabballa Jewish esoteric mysticism. Rabbi Nachman before his death encouraged his followers to pray at his gravesite on Rosh Hashanna that they will see great miracles and wonders. This custom of praying at his grave was interrupted during the communist regime but today grows each and every year. This year over 30,000 Jews will travel from all over the world to pray at his gravesite. Rosh Hashanna in Uman is not only a serious day for prayer, but it is day of celebration festival of the day of the creation of Adam with music and dance.

A Prayer for Peace

By Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772 – 1810)

Lord of Peace, Divine Ruler to whom peace belongs, Master of Peace, Creator of all things.

May it be thy will to bring an end to war and bloodshed on earth, and to spread a great and wonderful peace over the whole world, so that nation shall not life up sword against another nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Help us and save us all, and help cling tightly to the virtue of peace. Let there be a truly great peace between every person and their fellow, and between husband and wife, and let there be no discord between any people even in their hearts.

And may it be that all people love peace and pursue peace, always with truth and wholeheartedness, without holding to any disputes ever again which would divide us against eachother.

Let us never shame another person on earth, great or small. May it be granted to us to fulfill the commandment of “Love your neighbor like you love yourself” with all our hearts, souls, bodies and possessions.

And let it come to pass as it is written, “And I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down and none shall make you afraid. I will drive the wild beasts from the land; and neither shall the sword go through the land.” Leviticus 26:6

God who is peace, bless us with peace.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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