Rosh HaShanah – The Jewish New Year. Why is it significant?
Hebrew – ראש השנה
By Rabbi Tzvi (Hilton) Wainstein
A short explanation of Rosh Hashanah – Rosh HaShanah, also called Yom Ha-Zikaron (Day of Remembrance) or Yom Teruah (Day of the Sounding the Shofar), is celebrated in the Hebrew month of Tishrei when Jews believed that the world was created and on the day when G-d created Man – the last and most precious creation. Each Rosh HaShanah we proclaim G-d as our one and true King. We reaffirm our desire to serve him every moment of our lives. At this same time, G-d reviews the status of his creation and determines if we will merit another year in this world.
After prayer services, we greet each other by saying “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” On Rosh HaShanah, everyone is judged by G-d based on his or her actions during the previous year. The resulting judgment is inscribed by G-d and a person’s future is determined for the following year. Though that judgment is inscribed, it is not yet sealed and can still be changed at least for another ten days. G-d waits until Yom Kippur to seal the book for the year.
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How can a person change their judgment for the better? “Repentance (Teshuva), Prayer (Tefillah), and Charity (Tzdaka) can remove the bad decree.” G-d looks at these three areas during the time between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (known as the Ten Days of Repentance). By examining your life and doing Teshuvah with true regret for the past and a real commitment for the future, a person can erase his misdeeds and improve his judgment before it is sealed on Yom Kippur. Similarly, by praying with greater concentration before G-d, and by giving charity with the proper spirit, one can also upgrade one’s status.
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Rosh HaShanah is all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person. It is a holiday filled with hope for the coming year. Jews believe that God is compassionate and just, and that God will accept our prayers for forgiveness.
May all of Israel be inscribed and sealed for a good year.