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Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: ראש השנה), literally “head of the year”, is the Jewish New Year, a time of prayer, self-reflection, and t'shuvah. We review our actions during the past year, and we look for ways to improve ourselves, our communities, and our world in the year to come. The holiday marks the beginning of a 10-day period, known as the Yamim Nora-im (“Days of Awe” or “High Holidays”), ushered in by Rosh Hashanah and culminating with Yom Kippur (the “Day of Atonement”). Rosh Hashanah is widely observed by Jews throughout the world, often with prayer and reflection in a synagogue. There also are several holiday rituals observed at home.

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which – because of differences in the solar and lunar calendar – corresponds to September or October on the Gregorian or secular calendar. Customs associated with the holiday include sounding the shofar, eating a round challah, and tasting apples and honey to represent a sweet New Year. The common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is “Shanah Tovah”, which, in Hebrew, means “(Have) a good year”.

The Mishnah contains the second known reference to Rosh Hashanah as the “day of judgment” (Yom ha-Din) and “the day of remembrance” (Yom ha-Zikkaron). In the Talmud tractate on Rosh Hashanah, it states that three books of account are opened on Rosh Hashanah, wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of an intermediate class are recorded. The names of the righteous are immediately inscribed in the book of life, and they are sealed “to live.” The intermediate class are allowed a respite of ten days, until Yom Kippur, to reflect, repent and become righteous; the wicked are “blotted out of the book of the living forever.”

Laws on the form and use of the shofar and laws related to the religious services during the festival of Rosh Hashanah are described in Rabbinic literature such as the Mishnah that formed the basis of the tractate “Rosh Hashanah” in both the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. This also contains the most important rules concerning the calendar year.

The shofar is blown in long, short and staccato blasts that follow a set sequence:

  • Teki’ah (long sound) Numbers 10:3;
  • Shevarim (3 broken sounds) Numbers 10:5;
  • Teru’ah (9 short sounds) Numbers 10:9;
  • Teki’ah Gedolah (very long sound) Exodus 19:16,19;
  • Shevarim Teru’ah (3 broken sounds followed by 9 short sounds).

The total number of blasts on Rosh Hashanah is 100.

Sun, September 25 2022 29 Elul 5782