Rosh Hashana 5780

Holiday #1/5780 (#263) Rosh HaShana 5780
Sept. 29 (evening) - Oct. 1, 2019
Some Laws and Customs
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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 convocation.

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 in judgment.

[From the excellent annotated English translation by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel]


From the Chasidic Masters

The Judgment

"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

The Coronation

"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.

(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Some Laws and Customs

Why do we Blow the Shofar
Yrachmiel Tilles

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!

In with the new year and its blessings!"


L'shana Tova tikateiv v'tihateim






The ASCENT staff


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