The Fast of Gedaliah is observed to commemorate the murder of Gedaliah the son of Achikam, which is described in the last chapter of the Second Book of Kings. This murder resulted in the exile of the Jews who remained in Judea after the Babylonian conquest.
In order to fully understand Yom Kippur, it is important to look deeper at the Jewish concept of teshuva, “repentance.”
Since Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment, it is customary to eat simanim,* foods with symbolic meanings that invoke God’s blessing. We also recite a short prayer before eating them. While apple with honey is a universal custom, other symbolic foods eaten depend on family custom. Here are some examples.
The Rosh Hashana tashlich ceremony is a tradition that is dear throughout the many diverse Jewish communities. Tashlich literally translates to “You will throw.” But what, exactly, is it?
We make promises all the time. We swear that we are going to do something, and then hope that we will be in a position to fulfill the vow.
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.”