Rosh HaShanah 5778, the Jewish New Year 2017 is fast approaching. This festival of happiness is observed for two honey sweet days! It occurs on the 1st & 2nd of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, 5777. Or perhaps in the more familiar Gregorian calendar, the Hebrew dates coincide with the evening of 20th September to the evening of 22nd September 2017.
What is Rosh HaShanah and why is it so special to the Jewish people? Rosh HaShanah literally means ‘Head of the Year” and alludes to the anniversary of the creation of the first man & women, Adam and Eve. It is a reference to the relationship between G-d and humanity.
The purpose of this Rosh HaShanah 5778 will be to emphasize the spiritual connection we share with our Creator. From mankind’s viewpoint, we respect the ‘greater power’ for our existence. We express gratitude for our physical form and our spiritual being (the soul). We give thanks for the knowledge instilled within us, which gives us our faith. From a purely spiritual perspective, armed with our unwavering belief, we are duty bound to spread G-d’s presence in the physical world. This is the task that he is relying on us mere mortals to achieve!
Rosh Hashanah is the time that we proclaim G-d as King of the Universe. It is our hope that by doing so, the divine power will grant the universe continued existence. Ever hopeful in love and peace..
Musical blasts of the traditional Shofar (ram’s horn used for religious purposes) represent the trumpets sounding off as in a regal coronation. This is to remind the world that this is the period of time for repentance. Rosh HaShanah although a celebratory holiday, is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and serves as the first countdown of the Ten Days of Repentance finishing at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
In traditional teachings, Rosh HaShanah is also the Day of Judgement, where it is said a record of the destiny of each person for the upcoming year is written in the Book of Life or the Book of Death. But don’t be too worried, the final verdict is not ‘set in stone’ until Yom Kippur, so you have time to atone until then!
Rosh HaShanah comes with a lot of sweet food accompaniments! One of these is a childhood favorite of mine, dipping crispy tart apples into sticky golden honey. This represents our wishes for a Sweet New Year, along with the rounded sweet challah bread which symbolizes the circle of time. Each specific symbol of the festival draws us together as a unique family, wherever we are in the world.
In Tel Aviv, this Rosh HaShanah 5778, families & friends will get together to welcome in the Sweet New Year. We shall recite prayers for a long life filled with good health, happiness, and prosperity. We shall say blessings over the key elements of the festive meal. We shall listen to one hundred blasts of the Shofar in the distance. We shall remember those we have loved but who are no longer in our lives.
We will indulge in the juicy ruby clusters of jewels hidden inside leathery skinned pomegranates. This ancient seeded fruit with its regal crown has much religious significance for the Jewish people as it does in health benefits! Eaten by the slaves in Egypt, it adorned the clothing of the Cohen’s (high priests) and was engraved on the pillars of the First Temple. It is as much a Jewish symbol as it is an Israeli good food source.
On Rosh HaShanah, pomegranates are eaten to epitomize goodness, an abundance of it! It’s traditionally known from our seder school learning that this fruit contains 613 seeds. Each seed equates to a good deed (mitzvah). This means that we are supposed to keep all 613 of them (mitzvot)! It’s a heavy order, but no doubt one we are qualified to conduct throughout our existence.
♥ May your New Year 5778 be Sweet, Safe & fulfilling. Wishing you all Hag Shamach & Shanah Tovah from Tel Aviv!
Times: From sunset, Wednesday, 20th September 2017 ending at nightfall on Friday, 22nd September 2017