Rosh Hashanah 2021
I deviated from Proverbs for a little bit because the Jewish High Holy Days begin tomorrow night (Monday). This is what I wrote about Rosh Hashanah. I know it is long, but it is my heart...
Since leaving Israel it has been challenging to follow the Festivals and Holidays that God ordained in His Word. I miss them… They became near and dear to my heart. They have filled my heart and soul many times over the years. I know that many do not understand the depth that is so amazing in these High Holy Days. I wish more within the community of faith would appreciate them. I realize they can be celebrated anywhere, but there is nothing like celebrating them as we did with friends in Israel.
Sadly, it is not easy to celebrate them here in the US (or anywhere outside Israel). Most see these days as “no longer for today” and dismiss them. Others are “intrigued” by them and are willing to learn a little about them, but again, most are not willing to go deep and let them penetrate their souls. It’s more an attitude of, “yep, I can see that it has biblical foundation,” but they still straddle the fence with being concerned that they will “become Jewish” if they begin to do more than just casually celebrate them.
Friends, the person we call our Messiah and Savior - Jesus - was Jewish. He celebrated these High Holy Days every year alongside his family, friends, and disciples. We ask ourselves, “What Would Jesus Do” and yet we don’t DO what He did. The early communities of faith celebrated these festivals. Paul did. These days that Adonai set apart from the beginning and gave to the Israelites NEVER went away when Jesus came. They all celebrated them with LOVE that came from the Creator of All things - Adonai. Jesus fulfilled them!
It blows my mind that the community of faith has eliminated these special and anointed days. For those who say that they were only part of the Old Testament and that the New Testament is what they follow, why can’t you see that the New Testament believers were Jewish and fully celebrated them? They were commanded by God to LISTEN and OBEY what He asked of them, and they fully committed themselves to obeying His teachings - which included these times and seasons.
Monday night, September 6, 2021, Rosh Hashanah begins. Rosh means “head” and Hashanah is “the year.” It is the beginning of the year. It is a time of celebrating all that is “sweet and good.” It is common to eat apples dipped in honey as a representation of fruitfulness and the desire for a sweet new year. Challah bread is made in the shape of a crown to represent the crown of the new year. It is often made with raisins to make it sweet. It is a time to blow the shofar and recognize renewal. This is why it is often called the “Feast of Trumpets.” When they blow the shofar, it typically has 100 notes blown.
Rosh Hashanah is thought to be the creation of the world. It also begins what is known as the “Ten Days of Awe” that culminates in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The days are a time of reflection that is filled with repentance (both to God and family and friends) asking for forgiveness for any wrong doing towards others during the past year. It is a time to let go of sins and renew the soul.
Jesus, and the early communities of faith, would have celebrated this day every year. They would have taken the words of Adonai in Leviticus and Numbers seriously.
23 Adonai said to Moshe, 24 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. 25 Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai.’”
“‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you are to have a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; it is a day of blowing the shofar for you. 2 Prepare a burnt offering to make a fragrant aroma for Adonai — one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs in their first year and without defect — 3 with their grain offering, consisting of fine flour mixed with olive oil — six quarts for the bull, four quarts for the ram, 4 and two quarts for each of the seven lambs — 5 also one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. 6 This is to be in addition to the burnt offering for Rosh-Hodesh with its grain offering, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings, according to the rule for them; this will be a fragrant aroma, an offering made by fire to Adonai.
There is often a service where the Jews will walk to flowing water and “cast off” their sins. Some will throw a rock into a pond. Others will let water run through bread and watch it “go away” as a symbol of “letting go.” They say a prayer from
Who is a God like you,
pardoning the sin and overlooking the crimes
of the remnant of his heritage?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in grace.
He will again have compassion on us,
he will subdue our iniquities.
You will throw all their sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show truth to Ya‘akov
and grace to Avraham,
as you have sworn to our ancestors
since days of long ago.
I love the line in verse 19 that I underlined above. He will help us let these things go because HE CARES!!! When we come to Him in repentance, He will release us from the bondage that so easily entangles us.
The greeting at Rosh Hashana is:
Shanah Tovah which means, “good year,” or the longer version: L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu, which means, “may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.” Where else do we read/hear the words, “book of life?” In Revelation 20:15
Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire.
It should be easy for us to see that there are many lessons for those who follow Christ to learn. We should see that none of these practices are any different than “traditions” people celebrate at New Year, Easter and Christmas. The difference is, this holiday is actually mentioned in the Bible. How it is celebrated may be filled with “traditions,” but the foundation of it is actually rooted in the Words of God. Adonai GAVE this idea and required His followers to OBEY it. When they did, they were blessed. When they didn’t, they suffered.
You might say, “But, I’m not Jewish. I’m not required to follow these ideas.” True. However, in the early communities of faith, the Gentiles that chose to follow Jesus joined the Jews and celebrated as they did. Going back to Ruth, who was not Jewish, when she chose to return to Jerusalem with Naomi, she joined the Children of Israel and followed their God and His teachings. From her, our Messiah was born.
Jesus is our King who will come again when the shofar (trumpet) sounds. When this happens it will usher in a new “year” (His reign) and new time of rejoicing! We will experience our sins being washed away in a whole new realm. I anxiously await this day!
This year begins a special year as it is also known as a “shmita year.” This observance is celebrated every seven years. It is a time that the farmers are to “rest their fields” and not grow anything. They are dependent on God to supply their needs. They would plan ahead and set aside years before to prepare, and trust that God would give them all they needed until they could grow crops again. It is also a time to forgive debts. Every seven years they would release their brother from any debt. From the verses below you can see that God promised to BLESS them if they followed this command.
“At the end of every seven years you are to have a sh’mittah. 2 Here is how the sh’mittah is to be done: every creditor is to give up what he has loaned to his fellow member of the community — he is not to force his neighbor or relative to repay it, because Adonai’s time of remission has been proclaimed. 3 You may demand that a foreigner repay his debt, but you are to release your claim on whatever your brother owes you. 4 In spite of this, there will be no one needy among you; because Adonai will certainly bless you in the land which Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess — 5 if only you will listen carefully to what Adonai your God says and take care to obey all these mitzvot I am giving you today. 6 Yes, Adonai your God will bless you, as he promised you — you will lend money to many nations without having to borrow, and you will rule over many nations without their ruling over you.
We as Gentiles need to recognize that we are grafted into a faith that is based on Adonai giving His Promises to the Children of Israel. We need to realize that His Promises are based on a foundation built from the beginning of time. We need to recognize that man changed His teachings along the way.
This year, as we approach Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days, please take time to stop and reflect on why things changed. Ask yourself why these days are no longer celebrated. You are not becoming Jewish if you choose to celebrate them. In fact, you are actually getting closer to the foundation that Adonai established. You are actually celebrating festivals that Jesus participated in every year.
It will look different for me this year. The celebration will be a bit more simple. I was excited when I found Israeli wine. I will enjoy a glass as I dip apples in honey, and will give thanks for Who He is and what He has done for me.
I pray you take time on Monday night to celebrate a New Year, even if it is basic. That you will reflect on all things new. That you will KNOW your name is written in the Book of Life. Maybe, because we are entering a “shmita year” you have some debts to release. Then, take some time to eat apples dipped in honey and be thankful for His grace and mercy.
Love and blessings,
Women Empowerment based on Torah and the Bible