Rosh HaShanah (based on a chapter in God’s Appointed Times by Rabbi Barney Kasdan, available at www.messianicjewish.net )
The Sages gave such significance to the special Shabbat of Rosh Hashanah (the first of the fall holidays) that they eventually considered it the “spiritual” New Year. Hence, the name change from Yom Teruah (the Day of Sounding/Festival of Trumpets, Lev. 23:23-25), to Rosh HaShanah, the Head of the Year.
TRADITIONAL JEWISH OBSERVANCE
In synagogues, the shofar, or ram’s horn, is sounded to alert the faithful that the time of repentance is near.
Since the themes of Rosh HaShanah are repentance and regathering, the synagogue service takes on a somber air. The liturgy, music and prayers emphasize these ideas.
The afternoon of Rosh HaShanah is spent near a body of water, observing the ancient service, tashlich. The word derives from Micah 7:19 where the prophet promises, You will hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. People cast breadcrumbs into water and rejoice in God’s promise of forgiveness when they repent.
The most noticeable custom is the sounding of the shofar, the trumpet mentioned in the Leviticus text. The shofar is blown in the synagogue with four different blasts, each providing a spiritual truths. The sages added other meanings to the shofar blasts to make them even more meaningful.
THE PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT
Many of our sages saw a connection between Rosh HaShanah and the Messiah, the agent of regathering. An 8th century C.E. work stated: Messiah ben David (son of David), Elijah and Zerubbabel, peace be upon him, will ascend the Mount of Olives. And Messiah will command Elijah to blow the shofar.
Rabbi Saul (the apostle Paul) reveals an important connection to the holy day: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar.`
Another important fulfillment of Rosh HaShanah is the regathering of the Jewish remnant at the return of Messiah. In the seventh century B.C.E., the prophet Isaiah wrote: In that day a great shofar will sound…those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem” (Isa. 27:12–13).
Referring to a latter-day regathering of the remnant, Messiah Yeshua, when asked about the future of Israel, confirmed: He (the Son of Man) will send out his angels with a great shofar; and they will gather together his chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).
PRACTICES FOR BELIEVERS IN MESSIAH
There are a number of ways to observe Rosh HaShanah. In synagogues, preparation starts the preceding Hebrew month, Elul, by sounding the shofar on Shabbat. Special prayers to cultivate repentance, called s’likhot, are offered. Messianic Jews and Gentiles could observe in the same spirit of repentance and hope. It is a holy time.
Emmanuel is holding services on September 18 starting at 7:30. Please join us as we celebrate this holy day together. Check our website for updates.