Rosh Hashanah—A Good Renewal

506.3Rosh Hashanah celebration is the beginning of the new year according to the Jewish calendar. Like any other nation celebrating the new year, we hope that it will bring us a good renewal.

Rosh Hashanah is preceded by a period called Slichot (Repentance) when we make a critical analysis of everything we have done over the past year and check how well or poorly we treated people.

Judaism is built on the principle of love for one’s neighbor as for oneself, so a person is obliged to calculate whether he really behaved kindly toward all people in the world. Then he sees that he did not always comply with this principle, and therefore repents and asks for forgiveness for having offended people and committed a crime or an unintentional mistake.

After such repentance, we come to the beginning of the new year. Rosh Hashanah is a special day from which the new year begins. After all, according to the Torah the world was created five days before Rosh Hashanah. On the sixth day Adam, man, was created who, as it is known, sinned and was expelled from paradise. Therefore, we are obliged to correct Adam’s transgression, because we are all parts of his soul.

In fact, there are four beginnings of the year. The year really begins with the exit from Egypt, about which it is said: “And I will take you as My people and I will be a God unto you.” Therefore, the new year, the new period, should be counted from the moment of leaving Egypt, that is, in Pesach (Passover).

The second beginning of the year is Rosh Hashanah, which we are celebrating now. Then there will be a holiday celebrating the beginning of the year for trees—Tu biShvat (Arbor Day). There is another beginning of the year to commemorate the gift of the Torah.

It turns out that we are celebrating the four beginnings of the year. But the most traditional holiday at the beginning of the Jewish year is Rosh Hashanah.

The traditional symbols of Rosh Hashanah celebrations are apples with honey and a round challah (special bread). They express our hope for a good new year. It is also customary to eat pomegranate on the holiday, symbolizing with its seeds a large number of good deeds that we commit to do in the new year.

At the celebration, it is customary to eat a round challah since the circle is a symbol of perfection. Apples and challah are dipped in honey to celebrate a good, sweet year.

It is customary to eat the head of a fish and wish each other not to stay at the tail but to be the head. The fish also represents the creature that lives in the water and water symbolizes mercy, Hesed. The child at birth comes out of the mother’s waters in which he grew up.

All these symbols indicate that we are entering a new period, a new life.
From KabTV’s “The World” 8/24/21

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