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month of Tishrei (around September
and/or October) is the busiest time of the year for Jewish holidays.
In the month of Tishrei, there are a total of 12 days of
Yom Tov, 7 of them Yomim Tovim on which Melacha
(work) is not permitted.
These Yomim Tovim include the days known as the "Yomim
Noraim," (High Holy days), the most important holidays
of the Jewish year: Rosh Hashana and
Yom Kippur. Four days after Yom Kippur
comes the Yom Tov of
In preparation for Rosh
Hashana and Yom Kippur, we recite special Selichot
means forgivness. The Selichot prayers emphasize and arouse
G-d's trait of mercy, benevolence and forgivness. At the same
time, the prayers encourage us to reflect on our deeds and resolve
to improve them.
The Sephardic custom is to
say Selichot throughout the entire month of Elul
until Yom Kippur, to commemorate the 40 days that Moshe
spent on Har (Mount) Sinai to receive the second Luchot
(Tablets of the Law).
Ashkenazic communities begin
reciting Selichot before Rosh Hashana. According
to Rabbi Eliezer (Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashana 8a), Adam
and Eve were created on Friday, the sixth day of Creation, which
was Rosh Hashana. That means that Creation began on Sunday,
the 25th day of Elul. Therefore, the Jews of Barcelona
adopted the custom of beginning the recitation of Selichot
on that day.
The Rabbis also wanted to allow
at least four days of Selichot before Rosh Hashana,
alluding to the four days that an animal must be checked for blemishes
before it is used as an offering. The concept is that we should
analyze ourselves before we "present" ourselves before
Hashem on Rosh Hashana. Consequently, when Rosh
Hashana falls on a Monday or Tuesday, the recital of Selichot
must begin sooner - and it is moved up a week, to the previous
According to Ashkenazic custom,
this year, (2013), Selichot
will begin September 1st, Motzei
Shabbat at midnight.
Rosh Hashana, is
observed on the first and second day of the month of Tishrei.
This year (2013), Rosh Hashana
will begin sundown Wednesday, September
4th, ushering in the New Year 5774.
Rosh Hashana is Thursday and Friday,
September 5 and 6.
means, literally, "head of the year" or "first
of the year." Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year
(5774). There is, however, very little
similarity between Rosh Hashana, one of the holiest days
of the year, and the secular December 31st midnight drinking bash
and daytime football game.
The only similarity between the Jewish New Year and the secular
one is: Many people use the New Year as a time to make "resolutions."
Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin looking back
at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to be
made in the new year.
The Torah refers to Rosh Hashana as Yom
Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah
(a day of shofar blowing). The name "Rosh Hashana"
is not found in the Torah's discussion of this Yom
Rosh Hashana is celebrated for two days, not only in
Chutz La-Aretz (outside of Israel), but also in Eretz
Yisroel. The celebration of this Yom Tov is marked
with solemnity, as it is on Rosh Hashana the whole world
is judged for the coming year.
Hashana begins a 10 day period, known as Aseret Ymay
Tshuva, (Ten Days of Repentance) or Yomim Nora'im
(High Holy days). These ten days that end with Yom
Kippur, are a time for Tshuva (repentance),
Tefilla (prayer) and Tzedaka (charity). Jews
have these 10 days to consider the sins of the last year and repent
and ask Hashem and our fellow man for forgiveness before
Yom Kippur. More
about this later.
A great deal of time is spent in the synagogue on Yomim
Nora'im, praying to Hashem that our sins be forgiven
and that we be inscribed in the "Book" of Life.
For an inspiring story about one of the most stirring prayers
of the entire Yomim Noraim, - The Unesaneh Tokef
is not permitted on Rosh Hashana. The "work"
prohibited on Rosh Hashana is the same as that prohibited
on Shabbat, except that cooking, baking, transferring fire
and carrying, all of which are forbidden on Shabbat, are
permitted on Rosh Hashana. When Rosh Hashana falls
on Shabbat, all bets are off, and all Shabbat restrictions
must be observed.
THIS APPLIES TO THIS YEAR - ROSH HASHANA 2013:
When Rosh Hashana fall on Thursday and Friday, in order to be able to cook on Friday for Shabbat,
an Eruv Tavshilin is made.
It is usually forbidden to prepare food on Yom Tov for
another day, even for the Shabbat. However, if someone
began preparing food for Shabbat before Yom Tov,
(on Wednesday), it is permitted to continue on Friday (even though
it is Yom Tov). This is known as 'Eruv Tavshilin,'
literally, 'mingling of cooked foods,' since these foods become
part of the Shabbat food, whose preparation has already
begun BEFORE the Yom Tov started, and may therefore be
continued on Friday.
Some food (a matzah and a cooked food, such
as an egg, fish or meat) is prepared on the afternoon before Yom
Tov (Wednesday), and set aside to be eaten on Shabbat.
When we set this food aside on Wednesday afternoon, we recite
the following blessing:
"Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, Who has
made us holy with His mitzvot, and commanded us about the
mitzvah of Eruv."
We now explain why we are making an Eruv, so we say the
following paragraph. Someone who does not understand the text
should recite it in English:
"With this Eruv, may we be allowed to bake, to cook, to
fry, to insulate, to light a flame, to prepare for, and to do
anything needed on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbat
[for ourselves and for all the Jews who live in this city]."
shofar (ram's horn), is blown on Rosh Hashana.
It sounds something like a trumpet. However, unlike a trumpet,
the shofar has no mouthpiece. One of the most important
Mitzvot of this Yom Tov is hearing the 100 sounds
coming from the shofar in the synagogue each day of Rosh
There are three
different types of shofar sounds:
(To HEAR each sound, CLICK on the name of the
There is also a Tekiah
Gedolah (literally, "big Tekiah"), the final
blast, which lasts longer than the regular Tekiah.
a 3 second sustained note;
three 1-second notes rising in tone,
a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of
about 3 seconds;
It is very difficult
to blow the shofar. A Ba'al tokay-ah, (Shofar
blower) may spend many hours practicing before Rosh Hashana.
The Ba'al tokay-ah
should be someone who is respected in the community, a person
who is well liked and does good deeds. Another person stands next
to the Ba'al tokay-ah, and calls out the order of the
Tekiyot. You are supposed to stand during the Tekiyot,
but more important, it is forbidden to talk from the time of the
first Bracha (blessing) of the shofar until
after the final shofar blasts at the end of Mussaf.
gives no specific reason why we blow the shofar on Rosh
Hashana. According to the great Jewish scholar, Rambam
(Maimondies), we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana
to say, "Wake up! Wake up, everyone who is asleep! Remember your
Creator! Instead of going around doing things that are not important
or worthwhile, take some time to think about what you can do to
make yourself into a better person. Give up doing bad things!"
Gaon gave many reasons for blowing the shofar, here
- Rosh Hashana
is the birthday of the world.
- The shofar
reminds us of Akeidat Yitzchak, (the Binding of Isaac)
where Abraham sacrificed a ram in the place of his son.
- At Har
(Mount) Sinai, when Hashem gave us the Torah,
Bnei Yisroel heard the sound of a shofar.
The shofar reminds us that Hashem gave us
laws and rules to obey.
- The shofar
is the call of redemption. The shofar reminds us that
Hashem will redeem the Jewish people.
is not blown if Rosh Hashana falls on a Shabbat.
Talmud tells us that "Simmana Milsa" - "a
symbol has significance." We perform symbolic acts as a sign
for good, an expression of prayer that the New Year be a good one
for us. Here are some of the Minhagim of the Rosh Hashana
It is a Minhag (custom) during the New Year season
to feature sweet foods as a symbol of our desire for a sweet year.
We also dip Challah in honey at this time of the year
for the same reason. The Challah is not braided as usual
but instead baked in a circle - a wish that the coming year will
roll around smoothly without unhappiness or sorrow.
A popular Minhag during Rosh Hashana is eating
apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year.
It's a highly recommend practice, it's also yummy.
After saying the Bracha ....Boray pree ha eitz,
Y'hee ratzon .*.. sheh-tichadesh alainu shana tovah oomtookah.
(*Some add Hashem's name)
"May it be your will..*.that you renew for us a good and sweet
On Rosh Hashana, we eat from the head of a fish or
sheep. Before we eat we recite:
"May it be your will that we be like the head (leaders) and not
like the tail (followers)."
Before eating the Pomegrante, we recite:
"May it be your will.....that our merits be increased like (the
seeds of) the pomegrante."
Before eating fish, we recite:
"May we be fruitful and multiply like fish."
Before eating carrots, we recite:
"May our merits multiply."
"May it be your will....that our evil sentence be torn before
you, and our merits be read out before you."
Before eating dates, we recite:
"May it be your will.....that our foes be consumed."
popular Minhag of Rosh Hashana is Tashlich
("casting off"). It is performed after the Mincha
prayers, on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashana, (unless
Rosh Hashana falls on a Shabbat, then Tashlich is
performed on the second day). We walk to a body of flowing water,
preferably one containing live fish, say a special prayer, and symbolically
empty our pockets into the river, casting off our sins.
The Tashlich service is a Minhag based on
the verse from Micah (7:9) "and cast into the depths
of the sea all their sins."
IN THE BOOK
Our Sages tell us that once we enter the month of Elul,
anytime a person writes a letter to someone, the writer should
mention the fact at the beginning of the letter that he wishes
and hopes that the person have a good year. Some Sages write that
expressing these wishes can be done at the end of the letter as
well. The standard blessing is "K'tivah V'chatimah Tovah,"
literally "A good writing and sealing," meaning that the person
should be written, so to speak, in the Book of Life, the Book
of Good, and be sealed in that book as well.
The common greeting during this period is L'shanah tovah
("for a good year"). This is short for "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."
These greetings are used during this period because on Rosh
Hashana the destiny of all mankind is recorded by Hashem
in "Books." In these "Books," Hashem writes in our names,
writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good
life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. Though these
"Books" are written in on Rosh Hashana, our actions during
Aseret Ymay Tshuva, (the Ten Days of Repentance) can
alter Hashem's decree. The actions that can change the
decree are Tshuva (repentance), Tefilla (prayer)
and Tzedaka (charity).
It is very important to seek reconciliation
with people you may have wronged during the course of the year.
The Talmud states that Yom Kippur can only atone
for sins between man and Hashem. To atone for sins against
another person, you must first seek to reconcile with that person,
righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.
On Yom Kippur these
"Books" are closed and sealed.
This year, (2013), because the day after Rosh Hashana is Shabbat, Tzom (the fast
of) Gedalia is observed on Sunday,
September 8, the 4th
day of Tishrei, (instead of the usual 3rd day of Tishrei).
commemorates the assassination of Gedalia ben (son of)
Ahikam, the Jewish governor of Israel, a critical event after
the destruction of the first Bait Hamikdash.
After the destruction of the first Bait Hamikdash and the
subsequent exile, a small group of Jews remained in Eretz Yisroel.
Nebuchadnetzar, king of Babylon, appointed Gedalia ben Ahikam,
a descendant of a prominent family of scribes, to govern Judean
Jewry. Acting as a undercover agent of the King of Ammon, Yishmael
ben Nesanyah, a member of the royal family, killed Gedalia on the
3rd of Tishrei. This act marked the slaughter of thousands
and the end of Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisroel. (See
Melachim II, Chapter 25 and Yirmiyahu, Chapters
lasts from dawn to nightfall, and one may eat breakfast if one
arises before sunrise for the specific purpose of doing so.
Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
is called Shabbat Shuva (the Shabbat of Return)
because the Haftorah which is read on this Shabbat
begins with the words Shuva Yisroel, (Repent O' Israel).
Others call it Shabbat Tshuva (Repentance), as it falls
in the Aseret Ymay Tshuva, (Ten Days of Repentance). This
year (2013) Shabbat Shuva,
is September 7.
It is customary for the Rabbi of the Congregation to give a
sermon on this Shabbat which includes the basic laws
of Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and devoted to the theme of Tshuva
and hopefully awaken and inspire people to correct their ways
Have a happy and healthy New Year!!
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