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Rosh Hashanah, on Sunday night, Sept. 16, 2012, will begin one of their most important religious holidays for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

It remembers the creation of the world. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means the “head of the year.” It is also called the Feast of the Trumpets. The blowing of a ram’s horn, a shofar, proclaims Rosh Hashanah, and summons Jews to religious services.

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Jews used the ram’s horn as a trumpet in Biblical times to announce the new moon, holidays, and war. Today, a variety of horns are used, including curved antelope horn

While it does have its festive side, Rosh Hashanah is not one big party, as the New Year’s celebrations on Dec. 31 tend to be. Rosh Hashanah is a time for personal introspection and prayer.

Jews may also visit graves. It is thought that the prayers or good wishes of the dead can help the living. By wishing each other well and sending cards, people let friends know what happened in the past year and what plans lie ahead. Christmas cards and get-togethers fill a similar role for Christians.

Rosh Hashanah is part of a process of spiritual growth. The Hebrew month preceding it, Elul, is a time for charity, tzedakah. Rosh Hashanah falls on the first and second days of the seventh month, Tis.

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Rosh Hashanah observances vary. Orthodox Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah for two days. Reform Jews often observe it for only one day. In Biblical times the moon, not the calendar, determined dates for festivals. Witnesses watching the sky proclaimed the new moon. Since Rosh Hashanah falls on the first day of the month, people living far from Jerusalem did not have time to learn the exact date

Next year Rosh Hashanah falls on September 5, 2013.

 

What Is Rosh Hashanah? was originally published on elev8.com

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