From the Ramban
The Shofar Sounds
By way of the Truth, [the mystic teachings of the Kabbalah], it shall
be a day of t'ruah unto you means that the day that is set aside for
t'ruah [i.e., when the world is judged according to the attribute of
justice], will be to our succor [for we will be remembered in mercy].
Similarly, a memorial of t'ruah, 'a holy convocation' means that there
will be a remembrance [of mercy] in the t'ruah [the quavering sound
which alludes to the attribute of justice], and therefore it is a holy
Why should Scripture mention the t'ruah, and not mention the t'kioth
at all, neither in connection with the New Year nor the Day of Atonement
[of the Jubilee year]? It is because the t'kiah [the plain accompanying
sound] is the memorial, and it is the Shofar [all alluding to the attribute
of mercy], and the t'ruah is as its name indicates [i.e., a reference
to the attribute of judgment]. And because it [the t'ruah] is wholly surrounded
by mercy - an accompanying plain sound before it and one after it - therefore
He said of those who know the t'ruah that through righteousness they will
be exalted, for Thou art the glory of their strength.
Thus it is clear that everything depends upon repentance, but on the
New Year He is concerned entirely with the attribute of justice and conducts
His world [by that attribute], and on the Day of Atonement He is concerned
entirely with the attribute of mercy. It is this that is expressed in
the saying of the Rabbis [with reference to these solemn days]: "The
King sits upon the throne of judgment etc." Thus the New Year is
a day of judgment in mercy, and the Day of Atonement is a day of mercy
[From the excellent annotated English translation by Rabbi Dr. Charles
From the Chasidic Masters
"Remember us for life, King who desires life, and inscribe us
in the Book of Life."
The request "Remember us for Life" refers to a remembrance for
the life of the soul and the spirit. The request "Inscribe us in
the book of life" refers to an inscription for bodily life.
"And he bound Isaac his son"
On Rosh Hashana, the day of judgement, we read the Akeida, the scriptural
passage describing the binding of Isaac. Mystically, the Akeidah represents
the kindnesses of Abraham overcoming the severities of Isaac, the "sweetening
of the judgments."
(Rabbi Shneur Zalman - quoted in Days of Awe, Days of Joy)
From the Rebbes of Chabad
"This is the day of the beginning of Your work,
a remembrance of the first day...." (Musaf Rosh Hashanah,
from tractate Rosh Hashanah 27a)
Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world, yet
it is celebrated on the first of Tishrei, which corresponds to the sixth
day of creation, the day man was created. The reason for this is that
the ultimate purpose of creation is that man through his divine service
reveals G-dliness in the world--a revelation that could be pointed and
addressed as zeh - "This." This endeavor began on the day man
was created, Rosh Hashanah. The creation of the world is truly celebrated
on the day when its purpose began to be realized.
Some Laws and Customs
Why do we Blow the Shofar
We are told many meanings of the shofar-blowing. In fact, the leading
Jewish sage in the tenth century C.E., Saddia Gaon, listed ten major ones,
each with a scriptural basis. Rabbi Saddia explained that the sound of
the shofar should call to mind
1) the creation of the world,
2) the beginning of the new year,
3) the Mt. Sinai experience,
4) the inspiring words of the prophets,
5) the destruction of the Holy Temple, and
6) the Binding of Isaac.
It should also arouse and increase in us
7) fear and awe of G-d Al-mighty,
8) fear and awe for the Day of Judgment,
9) belief in the future ingathering of the exiles and ultimate redemption
of Moshiach, and inspire our yearning for it, and
10) belief in the future Resurrection of the Dead.
(His list and attendant verses may be found in English in "Book
of our Heritage," among other sources.)
Keep in mind that while all of these ten are true and excellent interpretations,
and are good to have in mind before or during the actual moments of the
shofar-blowing, we cannot single out one of them or even all of them collectively
as the real reason why the shofar is blown on Rosh Hashana. The official
reason is quite simple; G-d instructed in the Torah that the shofar should
be blown "on the first day of the seventh month." But he did
not confide in us what this commandment signifies to Him.
"Out with the old year and its curses!
with the new year and its blessings!"
Tova tikateiv v'tihateim
YOU BE INSCRIBED AND SEALED
FOR A GOOD AND SWEET
OF HAPPINESS AND GROWTH!
Last year's Rosh haShanah