September 17, 2009

The Day of Blowing Trumpets

The festival of Rosh Hashanah starts this Friday evening at sunset. Rosh, meaning 'head' and Shanah meaning 'year', is the start of the Jewish calendar or the 'head of the year'. In Scripture, the festival is called Yom Teruah, or the Feast of Trumpets.


Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.’
Leviticus 23:23-25


On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate with sweet, round foods: sweet, to bring a "sweet taste" to the year to come, including good health and happiness; and round, to signify the circle of life and the renewal of the seasons. The traditional challah for Rosh Hashanah is round, in the shape of a crown, instead of braided into two loaves as usual.



The shofar, a well known symbol of Rosh Hashanah, is one of the earliest instruments used in Jewish music. Usually made from a rams horn, a shofar can also be made from the horns of other animals, including those of a goat or sheep. It is the one musical instrument that has not changed in over 5,000 years.

In Biblical times the shofar was blown to announce an important event, such as the alarm of war or the coming of peace. The blowing of the shofar is the only specific commandment for Yom Teruah and is blown 100 times or more during the festival.

Gathering for Tashlich service, 2005

Tashlich
Service

The word tashlich means "You will cast away." In this context, it refers to a custom dating from at least as early as the fourteenth century, but probably much earlier, based on the last verses of the Book of Micah 7:18-20:

"Who is a G-d like You?
You forgive sins and overlook transgressions
For the survivors of Your People;
He does not retain His anger forever, for He loves Kindness;
He will return and show us mercy, and overcome our sins,
And You will cast into the depths of the sea
all their sins;
You will show kindness to Yaakov and mercy to Abraham,
As You did promise to our fathers of old."

Believing communities have for many generations gathered on the First Day of Rosh Hashanah at bodies of water and recited prayers, which consist of certain chapters of Psalms and the verses shown above, to symbolize our wish to get rid of our sins and to be forgiven by G-d. Some even take the opportunity to give physical significance to this tradition by casting small stones into the water while meditating on the words of Micah.

Lisa, myself & Netanya at Tashlich service, 2007


L'Shanah Tova!

2 comments:

Ari C'rona said...

You always get me thinking with the festivals, my dear! You're an awesome coordinator!

L'Shanah Tova! :o)

Mama Cache said...

Thank you for the walk . . .