Shofar, Rosh Hashannah, and the New Year's Hopes

The Jewish High Holidays, also known as the High Holy Days, consist of the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and encompass the ten days from the beginning of Rosh Hashanah through the end of Yom Kippur. It is the time of the year when every Jewish seek for repentance. It is the time of the year when every Jewish soul search for amendment and atonement that can be made. Continue reading to know more about this Jewish New year and how this festival is able to arise new hopes and aspirations in the lives of every Jewish soul.

Rosh Hashannah - New Choices, New Hope

Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year comes once a year during the month of Tishrei the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar and occurs exactly ten days before Yom Kippur. Together, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Yamim Nora’im, which means "the Days of Awe" in Hebrew. Thus these days are considered as most important days in the lives of million Jews present worldwide. They consider these days as the most sacred and are often referred as the High Holy Days.

It is evidently visible as to why this festival is considered to be divine. For a person’s deepest fear is the fear of extinction, of ceasing to be. But with starting of Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year, a Jewish soul feels a mighty gush of hope in their hearts and is thus comforted.

Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei. Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holidays God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. As a result, during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (and in the days leading up to them) Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year. This process of repentance is called teshuvah. Jews within this span are thus encouraged to make recompense with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year. In this way, Rosh Hashanah which is all repentance helps in making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.

Thus for every Jewish, this is the ideal time of year when they do teshuva or repentance. It is the time when everyone turns to God through prayers, fasting and asking for forgiveness. Thus as long as one live it is never too late to change, to improve and to atone. Therefore it is high time of the year when one seeks for amendments for their misdeeds, repair shortcomings as well as omissions. What we haven't done often weighs more heavily than what we have done.

Thus the blowing the Shofar during the High Holidays is quite symbolical for it is there to wake every Jewish soul up. It is an instrument often made of a ram's horn and is blown one hundred times during each of the two days of Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the shofar blast reminds people of the importance of reflection during this important holiday. Thus why this shofar was used as the awakening call is very well described by Maimonides during the 12th century, who wrote that this shofar call is to:

"Awake from your slumbers, ye who have fallen asleep in life, and reflect on your deeds. Remember your Creator. Be not of those who miss reality in pursuit of shadows, and waste their years in seeking after vain things which don't profit. Look well to your soul..."

The High Holidays come to a close with Yom Kippur night when one gets to hear the triumphant cry of the Shofar. It is that awakening call that makes one feel from their deep inside that a bodily self is not onely what a human consist of, there are much beyond this superficial being. And once one realise this one is sure to confront the joy and pain, fear and tears, simultaneously. Thus through life's daily challenges, dreams and demands, confusion and mistakes, one is said to find new hope, strength and courage and a determination to prevail.

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