Shalom, dear children!
Finally they’ve arrived: the biblical holidays! This means a month full of serious and joyful days. Let’s remind ourselves what these holidays are about. The Hebrew word ‘rosh’ means ‘head’. Rosh Hashana, the head of the year, means the begining of the year. This year Rosh Hashana starts at sunset on September 29th. We start the year joyfully, and as a symbol of the sweetness that will fill the new year we eat apples with honey. This is a tradition, and shows hope.
We also look back when we celebrate Rosh Hashana: how was the last year? How did I behave myself? Was I nice, or was I disobedient once in a while? Did I help others, or did I exclude them? Of course we do our best to do behave ourselves and treat others (even) better during the coming year!
Leviticus 23 verse 24 and 25 says that there shall be a holy meeting on the first day of the seventh month. On this day one should rest, as if it is shabbat. Also, the meeting shall be announced by the blowing of trumpets. The trumpet is called a ‘shofar’, and is made of a ram’s horn.
The Torah gives no specific reason for the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashana. The famous rabbi Rambam (Maimonides) said the blowing on the shofar is like saying: “Wake up! All who sleep, wake up! Remember your Creator, G-d!” In stead of hanging around at home, and doing unimportant things, take your time to think of how you can become a better person. Stop doing bad things!
What are other reasons and places where we read about the shofar? The shofar reminds us of ‘Akedat Yitschak’, the binding of Yitschak. It was right on time when G-d provided a ram for the offering, in stead of Yitschak! It is the ram’s horn that we use after this miracle. We always remember this miracle when we blow or hear the shofar.?This event happened on mount Sinai. Also the giving of the Tora happened at that mount, many years later. It was at the giving of the Tora, that Israel heard the blowing of the shofar. The shofar reminds us that G-d gave us His laws and rules, which we should keep and do. The shofar is call for help, for salvation. 1 Tessalonians 4 verse 16 and 17 says that the shofar will be heard when Yeshua the Messiah will return.
Matthew 25 vers 1 through 13 speaks of the parable of five wise and five foolish young women. These women took lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. This parable speaks about the kingdom of G-d, and in it the bridegroom stands for the Messiah. What is the difference between the wise and the foolish women? The wise ones took lamps and oil to burn in the lamps; however, the foolish ones take only lamps and no oil. It’s like you’re going camping with a flashlight without batteries… Very unprepared! When you hear the shofar, think of the coming of the Messiah. Are you ready for Him?
The ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kipur (the day of atonement) are called the ‘High holy Days’. During these days we all have the time to make things right: with family, friends and G-d. After Yom Kipur we celebrate ‘Sukot’. This holiday lasts a week. Right after Yom Kipur we build a ‘suka’ (hut). the Israelites built huts in the desert when they came out of Egypt. On the last day of ‘Sukot’ we celebrate Simchat Tora. On this day we are extra happy for the Tora. It is through the Tora that we know what G-d wants from us!
Have a very sweet 5769!
Noa Naor, Jeruzalem
Tekst to remember: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of G-d. And believers who died will rise first” (1 Tessalonians 4 verse 16).