With Rosh Hashanah quickly approaching - this year it begins at sundown on Sunday, October 2nd - we thought we’d answer a few questions you might have about this celebration that’s centered around family and friends.
What does Rosh Hashanah mean?
It literally means “head of the year”. Yes, it’s a time of celebration, much like when we’ll ring in 2017, but the Jewish New Year is something more than just a party - it’s a time of reflection, atonement and renewal.
What year will it be?
Why do we dip apples in honey?
It’s all about sweetness! Symbolically it represents our hope that the year to come will be sweet and full of joy.
Other foods carry specific meanings, as well. Challah bread is often baked into round creations to remind us of the cyclical nature of the year.
The pomegranate also plays an important part of the holiday meal. It is said to have 613 seeds, which is the same number of mitzvot (commandments) found in the Torah. The pomegranate therefore serves to remind G-d of how obedient we were in the previous year.
What is a shofar?
No, a shofar is not a guy who drives a limo. A shofar is a ram’s horn that’s blown like a trumpet and the curves of the horn represent how life is not designed to follow a straight line. The blowing of the ram’s horn is one of the most important observances - the sound of the shofar is a call to the synagogue.
What are the Days of Awe?
A serious sounding name for a serious window of time. These are the ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur that are also known as the Days of Judgement. We are to set our minds on serious introspection. Who have we hurt?
What sins have we committed?
During this period our future is held in balance. Beginning on Rosh Hashanah G-d writes our names in “books” - also written down is who will live and die, who will have good luck or bad luck for the upcoming year. Our good deeds, thoughts and prayers are all recorded and it’s through these actions that our fate for the new year will be determined before the books are sealed on Yom Kippur. That’s why you may hear, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”