Here is a re-post on the Jewish Feast of Rosh Hashanna (head of the year) which is celebrated in 2016 from sundown Sunday Oct. 2 through sundown Oct. 3:
Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShannah
The Feast of Trumpets
“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the LORD.’’” Leviticus 23:23-25
The Bible calls this feast Yom Teruah, the Day of Sounding the Trumpets. Today it is more commonly known as Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. To understand the significance of Yom Teruah is to understand the subsequent festivals of Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Traditionally, sounding the trumpet or shofar (ram’s horn) meant that the Children of Israel were to take note—whether a battle call, a call to assemble at the Tabernacle, or other major event, the Jewish people knew to give great importance to the call. In this case the call was intended to set apart the day in preparation for the holiest day of the Biblical calendar, Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement. The ten days preceding Yom Kippur are spent in introspection, repentance, and an attitude of awe of God’s grace and mercy—in fact these days were later called by the Jewish people, the Days of Awe.
As believers in the Messiah who was the eternal Atonement of our sins, Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah is a call to take notice of God’s loving sacrifice by sending His Son to die for us. It reminds us to reflect on our own walk and relationship with God and others.
Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game.
There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making “resolutions.” Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year.
The name “Rosh Hashanah” is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:23-25 where the Lord told Moses to declare all the Jewish feasts for an everlasting covenant. As grafted in believers, shouldn’t we be observing this too?
This festival occurs in the Fall. So why is it known as the Jewish New Year, when the Biblical calendar’s New Year begins in the Spring? The Bible describes the beginning of the year as Nisan (around April) but for 2000 years Jews have celebrated the beginning of the year on Rosh Hashannah, which is in early fall – Tishri, the seventh month. Perhaps this is because it echoes the day of rest, the Sabbath, a day of recollection and contemplation, or a catching of one’s breath after the six days of hard work, a new beginning, a revival of spirituality.
The shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, “big tekiah”), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Click the shofar above to hear an approximation of the sound of Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar’s sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat.
No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayerbook called the machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.
Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. Also, round shaped foods are eaten to symbolize the cycle of the year. Fish is often served with the head left on, to symbolize the ‘head’ (rosh) of the year. The common greeting at this time is L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”). This is a shortening of “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (or to women, “L’shanah tovah tikatevi v’taihatemi”), which means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
Judaism has several different “new years,” a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American “new year” starts in January, but the new “school year” starts in September, and many businesses have “fiscal years” that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time).