This evening begins the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This marks 5771 years since creation if every day in the Torah is taken as a literal 24 hour day and every year taken as a literal ~365 days give or take some adjustment for the lunar-solar calendar and leap years (for which the Jewish calendar adds an extra month).
For those of you who might be curious, no, the vast majority of Jews do not actually believe that it has been only 5771 years since Earth was created or that human life emerged in the first seven days. Rather most authorities insist that they be taken as symbolic of the passage of time as perceived by Hashem, which is necessarily beyond human understanding.
Rosh Hashanah itself lasts two days and is also known as Yom HaDin, the day of judgment. Not only does it mark the beginning of the Jewish calendar year, but it traditionally considered to be the time when Hashem decides the fate of all people: “the wicked and righteous alike.” As an intensely personal experience, one is obliged to look back on the last year, make personal amends for any wrongs they may have committed to their fellow human beings, and seek forgiveness to start the year afresh. This period of “judgment” lasts ten days until Yom Kippur, when according to tradition, the fates of all people are sealed.
One of the most memorable parts of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar, a hollowed out ram’s horn (or other kosher horned mammal except for the cow). The shofar is sounded one hundred times each day of Rosh Hashanah as a oral reminder of the holiness of the day as to break the complacency of the listener and shock them into repentance and reverence. A strong ba’al tekiah (shofar blower) is, in my mind, an integral part of the Rosh Hashanah experience.
This is my first Rosh Hashana ever in Israel and I am really looking forward to it. Later today, I am catching a bus to Efrat to stay with my cousin and his wife for the next three days, two of chag and one of Shabbat. He studies at Yeshivat Hamivtar, a modern orthodox yeshiva just outside of the city gates. It will also be my first Rosh Hashana spent at a yeshiva, which should also be very interesting. I anticipate doing a lot of learning.
Thank you as always for reading and please excuse the lack of posts over the next few very busy and spiritually consuming days. I wish you all l’shana tova tikatayvu, a new year in which you will be written for a good life.
!לשנה טובה תכתבו