September 12, 2007

Rosh HaShanah

In Leviticus 23 God says, "These are My appointed feasts which you are to celebrate...On the first day of the seventh month--mark it with loud blasts on the ram's horn..." This year, since the Jewish calendar is lunar based and it never falls on the same date every year, Rosh HaShanah begins this evening.

Rosh HaShanah, or Feast of the Trumpets, is the Jewish New Year (year 5768 this year). In the rhythm of my own life I look at this time of year as a new year too. School starts, and I get the house cleaned and back together after the busyness of summer. Our January New Year doesn't do anything for me.

Because it's the beginning of the ten High Holy Days, or Days of Awe, leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it's a time of remembrance, of reflection, and of restoration--especially of relationship with God and others. It's a time of putting our physical and spiritual house in order. The shofar (a ram's horn) is blown as a call to awaken the conscience to a time of introspection, contemplation, and prayer, praise and worship.

Jews remember the story of the binding and release of Isaac every year at this feast. They also celebrate the beginning or the Birthday of the World. This would be a good time to bake a birthday cake and read Genesis 1 for the story of Creation.

God asks us more than 300 times in scripture to remember and retell the stories. The calendar can have so much more meaning when there's a recycle of stories associated with the days. When I read II Chronicles 34 and Nehemiah 8 I was shocked to find hundreds of years of gaps, where many generations of peoples did not tell the stories, and God was forgotten. And along with that would come a lack of identity of not knowing who we are.

The Hebrew feasts always have special symbolic foods for meals. I love anything that will give me ideas for supper! Rosh HaShanah is a sweet meal because of the hopes for a sweet new year ahead--like apples dipped in honey. I make a sweet challah bread. And instead of the typical sabbath day braid, it's a round loaf--desiring a full round year.

A typical greeting is, "May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year." I've often thought of sending out the yearly family news letter at this time instead of Christmas, but haven't.

"Keep your soul diligently, never forgetting what you've seen God doing, lest they slip from your heart as long as you live." Deuteronomy 4:9
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