Rosh Hashanah is a holiday celebrating the Jewish New Year. Jews believe that it is a day for judgment and repentance. As such, all Jews should reflect and repent. Rosh Hashanah, whose biblical name is Yom Teruah, signals the start of the Jewish High Holy Days which come to a close with Yom Kippur. The high holy days are also called the Ten Days of Penitence. The day is celebrated in two-day festivity on the first two days of Tishrei. The Talmud states that the world was made on the first day of Tishrei. In the ecclesiastical year, Tishrei corresponds to the seventh month. For the sake of those using the Gregorian calendar, Tishrei usually falls around September or October.
Rosh Hashanah is a Hebrew phrase that means the start of the year. The holiday comes from two Hebrew words; “Rosh” which translates to “head” and “Shanah” meaning year while “ha” is an article meaning “the”. A vital thing to note is that the etymology of Jewish Rosh Hashanah is related to the Islamic Arabic Ras as-Sanah (the Islamic New Year).
The first hints of this holiday can be traced to the agricultural cultures of the old Near East during the start of their economic year. During this time, the agricultural loop began anew from the preparation of the land to harvesting and its accompanying festivities. Different cultures like the Semites, Persians, and the Greeks set their new year at different times of the year. However, whichever the time set by any culture, the New Year always marked the beginning of the agricultural cycle
Among the Jews, there are four New Years all marking some beginning. However, people started considering Tishrei as the Jewish New Year during the time of initial Egyptians. The Hebrew nation and the Hebrew maintained the view.
Rituals and Customs
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated and marked in many different ways by Jews all over the world. One of the most noteworthy and popular rituals is blowing the shofar. A shofar is the horn of a ram and is blown at intervals throughout the Rosh Hashanah service. The shofar is blown in such a way that it gives a total of 100 blasts and is usually a call to repentance. However, when Rosh Hashanah falls on the same day as Shabbat, the horn is not blown.
Another popular custom of the day involves eating delicious apples that have been dipped in honey or sometimes sugar. Also present in the meal is plenty of sweet and delicious food as a form of prayer for the New Year. Among the delicacies are sweetened loaves of round challah. The challah is also dipped in honey.
Also on this day, Chabad rabbis move around blowing the shofar to those who cannot go to the synagogues to pray during the extra-long morning prayers. The rabbis travel by foot on this day because travel by car is forbidden to them on that particular day.
Other practices include having fireworks in the sitting room, eating the head of a fish or a ram, eating pomegranates, wearing new clothes, meeting and greeting people, and other traditions.