Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year begins on Wednesday, September 4 at sundown. My shops will be open, but I will not be checking them or responding to requests or orders until Wednesday, September 11.
Did you know that there are 5 names for Rosh HasShanah?
1. Rosh Hashana literally means "Head of the Year" because Rosh Hashana marks the point when we begin the new calendar year (e.g. from 5772 to 5773).
2. Yom Harat Olam means "The Birthday of the World."
3. Yom Hazikaron means "The Day of Remembering."
4. Yom Hadin means "The Day of Judgment."
5. Yom Teruah means "The Day of Sounding (the Shofar)." This is the actual name that the holiday is called in the Torah.*
The Jewish High Holidays mean:
• We get a chance for teshuvah (return to G-d), turn over a new leaf and begin again doing the right thing.
• We hear the shofar – a wake-up call to jostle us, to seriously taking stock of what we’ve done all year and make sure we are worthy of being written into the Book of Life. “God sits in judgment, deciding whether or not we have merited to be inscribed in the divine book of life.“ **
I like Rabbi Berkowitz’s commentary and he says it so much better than I could:
“Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter (1847–1905), also popularly known as the Sefat Emet, writes, “Inscribe us for life.” There is a holy point in each Jewish person’s heart. This is the living soul, of which it says, “God has implanted eternal life within us.” But over the course of each year, as we become accustomed to sinning, the material self overpowers and hides that holy point. We then have to seek compassion from the blessed Holy One, asking that this imprint in our heart be renewed on Rosh Hashanah. This is what we mean when we say, “Inscribe us for life.” (Arthur Green, The Language of Truth, Torah Commentary of the Sefat Emet, 343)
While ostensibly—according to a more traditional understanding of the liturgy and rabbinic teachings—we are pleading for God to inscribe us in God’s Book of Life, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter encourages us to adjust our perspective. While we do acknowledge that God sustains us in life, our hope and prayer is that we, ourselves, rediscover life. As Alter perceptively points out, numbing routines obscure the ”holy point” in our soul. We lose sight of our will to live and our aspiration to realize the ”eternal life” (hayyei ‘olam) that is implanted in each of us. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the 10 days in-between known as Aseret Yamei Teshuvah (the “10 Days of Repentance”) gift us with an annual opportunity for renewal and self-discovery. More important than asking God to bless us with a positive inscription is the need for us to open our hearts and bless ourselves with optimism and the possibility of life-affirming changes in the coming year.”**
Shanah Tovah u’meitukah,
Happy and Sweet New Year!
*Source: Jewish Treats
** Source: A Taste of Torah, by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz
Originally posted on my blog in 2012.