Rosh Hashana 5782

Holiday #1 (300) Rosh HaShana 5782
September 6-8
Some Laws and Customs
Come to ASCENT for Rosh Hashana 5776 (September 13-15, 2015)

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From the Holy Ari of Safed


The master disclosed that if one doesn't shed at least a few tears during the High Holy Days, it is evidence that his soul is flawed. He added that when one finds oneself suddenly aroused to tears on the High Holy Days, it is a sign that at that moment, one's soul is being judged in the Heavenly Court above. In anticipation and trepidation of the judgment, one is overwhelmed by tears.

(Shulchan Aruch of the Arizal, Hilchos Rosh HaShanah)

From the Chasidic Masters

Structure of Sovereignty

On Rosh Hashana we accept G-d's kingship over the world, metaphorically erecting a "structure of sovereignty." To construct a physical building, three building materials are used: stones, earth (dust) and water. In the spiritual sense, these correspond to the letters of the prayer book, a sense of humility, and our tears. By reciting our prayers humbly on Rosh Hashana and with tears that come from the heart, we establish G-d's Kingship over all of creation.

(From Sefer Ham'amarim Kuntreisim)

From the Rebbes of Chabad

The Coronation

What is the essential aspect of Rosh HaShanah? The coronation of G-d as King. Thus, our Sages quote G-d as asking: "Say before Me... verses reflecting My Kingship to make Me King over you."

Until we have accepted G-d as King, serving Him through the observance of mitzvos is not relevant. And so our Sages quote G-d as saying: "Accept My Kingship, and afterwards accept My decrees." Therefore teshuvah, which serves to atone for failures in fulfilling the King's decrees, is relevant only after His Kingship is accepted.

Our acceptance of G-d as King relates to His essence - a level above all revelations. The observance of the mitzvos relates to G-d's will as it has come into revelation, for all the mitzvos are expressions of His will.

Teshuvah, which atones for transgressions of His will, relates to a higher level of G-dliness, but one which still shares a connection to His will. For a level which totally transcends G-d's will must also transcend the service which repents for transgressions of that will. Thus teshuvah still relates to revealed levels of G-dliness. The acceptance of G-d as King, however, relates to G-d's essence, which transcends all revelations.

From this, we can appreciate the uniqueness of the souls of the Jewish people - that they can affect G-d's very essence and evoke in Him a desire to be King. To be able to affect G-d's essence, however, it is necessary to express the inner bittul that lies at the center of every Jewish soul. This is expressed in our request of G-d: "Reign over the entire world in Your glory."

…G-d's essence knows no bounds. Since the influence drawn down by the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is rooted in G-d's essence, this influence is not restricted by any limitations of the spiritual cosmos. The influence is drawn down precisely as He desires it to be. And what He desires is certainly good, as it is written: "In the countenance of the King, there is life." Penai, translated here as "countenance," also means "inner dimension." Thus any desire emanating from G-d's inner dimension will surely be associated with life and goodness.

This will be revealed on the material plane, for G-d's essence is connected to our material reality. And so it is that every Jew will be inscribed for a good and sweet year, filled with open and apparent blessings.

(Adapted from Sichos Kodesh 5723)

Some Laws and Customs


The Torah mentions the word 'tru'ah' (a shofar sound) three times with reference to blowing the shofar. Each truah is known to be preceded and followed by a straight sound called teki'ah. Hence, a person is obligated to hear on Rosh Hashanah at least nine shofar-sounds: 'tekiah'truah-tekiah, tekiah-truah-tekiah, tekiah-truah-tekiah.'

Our sages have ruled that after long years of exile, we can no longer be certain how the truah is sounded: whether it is a staccato sobbing sound or a burst of groans; or is it a combination of both groaning and sobbing tones which is called truah. Therefore, we sound all of these shofar tones, and call the sobbing sound 'truah' and the groaning sound 'shvarim.'

Therefore, the order of the shofar-sounding is: The man who sounds the shofar utters the blessing and sounds a tekiah, then a shvarim-truah and finally a tekiah. He repeats the same order 3 times, thereby sounding 12 sounds: 3 times shvarim-truah - hence 6 sounds, 3 tekiot preceding the shvarim-truah sounds and 3 tekiot following - a total of 12 sounds. He then sounds tekiah-shvarim-tekiah 3 times - a total of 9 sounds. He concludes with the sounding of tekiah-truah-tekiah 3 times, also a total of 9 sounds.

The total number of shofar sounds (thus far) are 30 - with all the doubts concerning the three possible definitions of truah resolved. These thirty shofar notes are first sounded after the Torah-Reading and before the Musaf prayer. They are called tekiot-meyushav. It is customary, but not obligatory, for all to stand. Hearing these 30 sounds fulfills one's obligation to hear the shofar on Rosh HaShanah.

Later, when the congregation stands during the Musaf prayer, another 30 notes are sounded - 10 after each of the 3 central blessings of the silent Musaf prayer: mal-chuyot, zichronot and shofrot. These blasts are called tekiot-meumad, since the entire congregation is then obliged to stand.

Then, during the cantor's repetition of the Musaf prayer, yet another 30 notes are sounded - 10 after each of the 3 central blessings. During kaddish after Musaf, before the phrase beginning titkabel, another 10 sounds are blown. The grand total is thus 100 sounds of the shofar.

(Many Sephardic communities add another long tekiah blast in order to total 101 sounds: the numerical value of Mikhael, the chief angel; some Chassidic communities sound an extra cycle of 30 sounds at the conclusion of the prayers, "To confuse the Accuser.)

"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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