By Rabbi Shemtov
The Jewish new year also known as High Holidays or Rosh Hashanah falls out this year on the evening of September 6 through September 8.*
Rosh Hashanah, which is the name of the holiday, has two meanings. 1) The “Beginning of the Year” and 2) the “Head of the Year” – the literal translation of the word.
What occurred on “Rosh Hashanah” that marks it a holiday?
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the sixth day of creation, the day man was created, after everything already came in to being, including the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdom.
A lesson we can learn from this is that G-d did not choose the first day of creation to celebrate, but rather chose the day man was created.
G-d wants to teach us that man, which is a microcosm of the world, has within him all the above mentioned elements: mineral, vegetable and animal. Additionally, the human has communicable intelligence.
There are times in our lives when we are like the mineral/ inanimate, or times during the day that we just vegetate. A true human being is one who uses his intellect and is productive, only then can we truly call him a human.
Being productive is not only within the personal self, but also within the world around us. We all have a responsibility for one another and an obligation to be change makers. Yet, we must remember the adage: Changing the world starts at home.
Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year.
This article is based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe of Blessed memory
Here is a short parable on the meaning of the Shofar blowing:
From Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov 1688 – 1760
There was once a King who had an only son, the apple of his eye. The King wanted his son to master different fields of knowledge and to experience various cultures, so he sent him to a far-off country, supplied with a generous quantity of silver and gold. Far away from home, the son squandered all the money until he was left completely destitute. In his distress he resolved to return to his father’s house and after much difficulty, he managed to arrive at the gate of the courtyard to his father’s palace.
In the passage of time, he had actually forgotten the language of his native country, and he was unable to identify himself to the guards. In utter despair he began to cry out in a loud voice, and the King, who recognized the voice of his son, went out to him and brought him into the house, kissing him and hugging him.
The meaning of the parable: The King is G‑d. The prince is the Jewish people, who are called “Children of G‑d” (Deuteronomy 14:1). The King sends a soul down to this world in order to fulfill the Torah and mitzvot. However, the soul becomes very distant and forgets everything to which it was accustomed to above, and in the long exile it forgets even its own “language.” So it utters a simple cry to its Father in Heaven. This is the blowing of the shofar, a cry from deep within, expressing regret for the past and determination for the future. This cry elicits G‑d’s mercies, and He demonstrates His abiding affection for His child and forgives him.
*Each year Rosh Hashanah falls out on a different secular date being that the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle.
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You may notice in my article that G-d is written G dash D. This is not a typo. Many Jewish print and online publications, are particular to not spell out the name of our Creator, even in English. Rather, we write “G‑d.”
Here’s why: Writing G‑d’s name could lead to erasing or disrespecting G‑d’s name.
Due to this, when religious Jewish newspapers were first printed in pre-Holocaust Europe, many adopted the practice to hyphenate the name of G‑d, lest at some stage these pages be treated disrespectfully. This practice now extends to all articles, newspapers or magazines printed in Yiddish, English or any other language. Although some of these concerns may not apply to a digital copy or computer screen, we are still careful to hyphenate Divine names written in any languages online, not only out of extra reverence for G‑d’s name where it may not be technically required, but also since it is very common, to print out these articles to read later.
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