In neither of the two Torah references to the holiday of Rosh Hashana (Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1), is there a specific mention of the shofar, the ram’s horn. Only the Teruah, the sound made by the shofar, is noted. So why do we only use the shofar on Rosh Hashana when the same sound can be made on another instrument?
One of the new holidays that has gained traction due to internet calendars is “Positive Thinking Day,” celebrated this year on September 13th. With only three days left until Rosh Hashana, Jewish Treats can think of no better time of year to highlight the important message of positive thinking.
Rosh Hashana, the head of the year, is the day on which God determines the fate and fortune of both individuals and communities for the year to come. It is assumed that on this day God determines exactly how much money one will earn in the coming year. As it says, “All of a person’s earnings are fixed in the time from Rosh Hashana until (and including ) Yom Kippur, except for his expenses for Shabbat, holidays and expenses incurred in teaching his children Torah” (Beitza 16a).
The shofar is one of the most recognizable symbols of Rosh Hashana. Although it is preferable that a shofar be fashioned from a ram’s horn, the horn need only come from a kosher animal.* However, not all the horns of a kosher animal are usable, for instance cows’ horns and deer antlers are solid bone and cannot be fashioned into a shofar, whereas the horns of animals such as rams are made of keratin and can be hollowed out to become a shofar.
No prayer so thoroughly captures the Jewish people’s dual relationship with God as Avinu Malkeinu, “Our Father, Our King.”
When history books discuss immigration to the land of Israel at the beginning of the twentieth century, the waves of immigrants to which they refer were, for the most part, Ashkenazim (Jews of central/eastern European ancestry). The truth is that there were Jews already living in the Promised Land, and they, for the most part, were Sephardim (of Spanish-Portuguese and Near-Eastern ancestry).
According to Jewish tradition, this Monday, Rosh Hashana, the world will be 5773 years old. This claim easily stirs up sharp debate. How, it is often asked, can one say that the world is only 5773 years old when carbon dating records certain fossils as being millions of years old? Science and religion often seem in conflict with one another, but only at first glance.
n Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashana has several names that can help us understand the importance and power of this holiday.
In addition to the unique prayer services of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the High Holidays are known for one other service: selichot. A collection of religious poems and verses, selichot are penitential prayers that help one focus on the mood of the season.
Well sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…Alas, this ship’s tale is no three-hour tour, but the story of the birth of Jewish life in North America.