Friday, September 30, 2011

Why I Love Rosh Hashanah

Yesterday we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish year 5772.  Every time I celebrate Rosh Hashanah I learn new things and have deeper insights. (I say this about all of the Biblical Holidays, but it's true!) This holiday is so full of meaning that I could not begin to describe it in this little blog post, so I will just share a few of the things that I love about it.

Rosh Hashanah is also called the Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah: the day for the sounding of the shofar.  A shofar is a ram's horn.  In Bible days the shofar was blown for a variety of reasons, like: a call to war, a warning of danger, the coronation of a king, and, of course, at Yom Teruah.  To me, the shofar is a wake up call.  Rosh Hashanah begins the 10 "Days of Awe" leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  These days are also called the Days of Teshuvah (repentance, or turning around) The shofar reminds us that, if we want to be right with God, we need to turn our whole selves and our entire lives toward Him. In the future, the shofar will be sounded to announce the second coming of the Messiah!  I love the sound of the shofar!  If you haven't heard it, you should look it up on Youtube and listen for yourself.  My husband and I decided we wanted our own shofar, so we ordered one just in time for Rosh Hashanah.  I tried and tried, but I just can't make a sound come out of it.  It takes some skill to blow those things!  It's a good thing we have two trombonists in the family.  They will be doing all of the shofar blowing. 

Of course, just like every other Biblical Holiday, this one has some great food!  It is traditional to eat apples and honey for a sweet new year, and sweet, round loaves of challah to symbolize God's kingship (round like a crown).  I love trying new recipes each year.  I found out a couple of years ago that honey cake is definitely not a favorite at our house!

This year for the first time we attended a Rosh Hashanah service at a messianic synagogue. Congregation Beth Yeshua is over 2 hours away from us, but we try to attend when we can.  We were so glad we did! The place was completely packed with people equally as excited to hear the sounding of the shofar. It was so inspirational! We loved every minute.

When we returned home, we walked to the nearby river for the symbolic and meaningful ceremony of Tashlich, which means casting the stones.  This is a custom where we gather little rocks and put them in our pockets to carry to the river.  The rocks symbolize our sins.  We throw them into the river, like God casts our sins into the depths of the sea.  Tossing those rocks into the river, where they will be carried away to the sea, never to be seen again, is a very liberating feeling!

There is so much more to this holiday.  If it is new to you, I encourage you to do your own research and learn more about it and all of the Biblical Holidays.  They are God's holidays!  My life has been deeply enriched by learning about each one as we celebrate them.

Coming soon..."Why I Love Yom Kippur", to be followed by "Why I Love Sukkot"

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