ROSH HASHANAH (
Hebrew : רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, literally
meaning the "beginning (also head) the year") is the Jewish New Year
. The biblical name for this holiday is YOM TERUAH (יוֹם
תְּרוּעָה), literally "day shouting/blasting", sometimes
translated as the FEAST OF TRUMPETS. It is the first of the Jewish
High Holy Days (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים Yamim Nora'im, lit.
"Days Awe") specified by Leviticus 23:23–32, which usually occur in
the early autumn of the
Northern Hemisphere .
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration, which begins on the first day
Tishrei is the first month of the Jewish civil year, but
the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year .
According to Judaism, the fact that
Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of
the year is explained by it being the traditional anniversary of the
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve , the first man and woman according to the
Hebrew Bible , and their first actions toward the believed realization
of humanity's role in God 's world. According to one secular opinion
its origin is in the beginning of the economic year in the ancient
Near East, marking the start of the agricultural cycle.
Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out
ram's horn), as prescribed in the
Torah , following the prescription
Hebrew Bible to "raise a noise" on Yom Teruah; and among its
rabbinical customs, is the eating of symbolic foods such as apples
dipped in honey to evoke a "sweet new year".
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Origins
* 3 Religious significance
* 4 Customs
* 4.1 Karaite
* 4.2 Samaritanism
Rosh Hashanah eve
* 7 Duration and timing
* 8 Prayer service
* 9 Symbolic foods
* 11 Greetings
* 12 Gallery
* 13 See also
* 14 References
* 15 Bibliography
* 16 External links
"Rosh" is the
Hebrew word for "head", "ha" is the definite article
("the"), and "shanah" means year. Thus "Rosh HaShanah" means 'head
the year', referring to the Jewish day of new year.
The term "Rosh Hashanah" in its current meaning does not appear in
Torah . Leviticus 23:24 refers to the festival of the first day of
the seventh month as "Zikhron Teru'ah" (" memorial blowing "); it is
also referred to in the same part of Leviticus as 'שַׁבַּת
שַׁבָּתוֹן' (shabbat shabbaton) or penultimate Sabbath or
meditative rest day, and a "holy day to God". These same words are
commonly used in the Psalms to refer to the anointed days. Numbers
29:1 calls the festival Yom Teru'ah, ("Day blowing "), and symbolizes
a number of subjects, such as the
Binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac whereby a ram was
sacrificed instead of Isaac, and the animal sacrifices , including
rams, that were to be performed. (The term
Rosh Hashanah appears
once in the Bible in Ezekiel 40:1 where it means generally the time of
the "beginning of the year" or is possibly a reference to
Yom Kippur ,
but the phrase may also refer to the
Hebrew month of
Nisan in the
spring, especially in light of Exodus 12:2, Exodus 13:3–4 where the
spring month of
Aviv , later renamed Nisan, is stated as being "the
first month of the year" and Ezekiel 45:18 where "the first month"
unambiguously refers to Nisan, the month of
Passover , as made plain
by Ezekiel 45:21. )
Machzor Jewish prayer-books
Rosh Hashanah is also
called "Yom Hazikaron" ( day the remembrance), not to be confused
with the modern Israeli holiday of the same name which falls in
Hebrew Rosh HaShanah is etymologically related to the
as-Sanah , the name chosen by Muslim lawmakers for the Islamic New
Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year in the
(one of four "new year" observances that define various legal "years"
for different purposes as explained in the
Talmud ). It is
the new year for people, animals, and legal contracts. The Mishnah
also sets this day aside as the new year for calculating calendar
years, shmita and yovel years.
Jews are confident that Rosh Hashanah
represents either figuratively or literally God's creation ex nihilo .
However, according to Rabbi
Eleazar ben Shammua , Rosh Hashanah
commemorates the creation of man.
The earliest origins of the
New Year are connected to the
beginning of the economic year in the agricultural societies of the
ancient Near East . The
New Year was the beginning of the cycle of
sowing, growth, and harvest, the latter marked by its own set of major
agricultural festivals. The Semites in general set the beginning of
the new year in autumn, while other ancient civilizations such as the
Persians or Greeks chose spring for that purpose, in both cases the
primary reason being agricultural – the time of sowing the seed and
of bringing in the harvest.
Mishnah contains the second known reference to
Rosh Hashanah as
the "day of judgment". In the
Talmud tractate on
Rosh Hashanah , it
states that three books of account are opened on Rosh Hashanah,
wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of an
intermediate class are recorded. The names of the righteous are
immediately inscribed in the book of life and they are sealed "to
live." The intermediate class are allowed a respite of ten days, until
Yom Kippur, to reflect, repent and become righteous; the wicked are
"blotted out of the book of the living forever."
Jewish liturgy ,
Rosh Hashanah leads to Yom Kippur, which is
described as "the day of judgment" (Yom ha-Din) and "the day of
remembrance" (Yom ha-Zikkaron). Some midrashic descriptions depict God
as sitting upon a throne , while books containing the deeds of all
humanity are opened for review, and each person passes in front of Him
for evaluation of his or her deeds. The
Talmud provides three central
ideas behind the day:
"The Holy One said, 'on
Rosh Hashanah recite before Me Sovereignty,
Shofar blasts (malchuyot, zichronot, shofrot):
Sovereignty so that you should make Me your King; Remembrance so that
your remembrance should rise up before Me. And through what? Through
the Shofar.' (
Rosh Hashanah 16a, 34b)" This is reflected in the
prayers composed by the classical rabbinic sages for Rosh Hashanah
found in all machzorim where the theme of the prayers is the strongest
theme is the "coronation" of God as King of the universe in
preparation for the acceptance of judgments that will follow on that
day, symbolized as "written" into a Divine book of judgments, that
then hang in the balance for ten days waiting for all to repent, then
they will be "sealed" on
Yom Kippur . The assumption is that everyone
was sealed for life and therefore the next festival is Sukkot
(Tabernacles) that is referred to as "the time of our joy" (z'man
The Yamim Nora'im are preceded by the month of
Elul , during which
Jews are supposed to begin a self-examination and repentance, a
process that culminates in the ten days of the Yamim Nora'im known as
Rosh Hashanah and ending with the holiday of Yom Kippur
The shofar is traditionally blown each morning for the entire month
Elul , the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the shofar
is intended to awaken the listeners from their "slumbers" and alert
them to the coming judgment. The shofar is not blown on
In the period leading up to the Yamim Nora'im (
Hebrew , "days of
awe"), penitential prayers, called selichot , are recited.
Rosh Hashanah is also the day of "Yom Hadin", known as Judgment day.
On Yom Hadin, 3 books are opened, the book of life, for the righteous
among the nations, the book of death, for the most evil who receive
the seal of death, and the third book for the ones living in doubts
with non-evil sins. The final judgment is not done from Yom Hadin
before the start of Yom Kippur, it is sometimes possible to receive
the seal of life by asking for forgiveness.
Unlike the denominations of Rabbinical Judaism, Karaite Judaism
believes the Jewish
New Year starts with the 1st month and celebrate
this holiday only as it is mentioned in the Torah, that is as a day of
rejoicing and shouting. Additionally, Karaites believe the adoption
of "Rosh Hashanah" in place of Yom Teruah "is the result of pagan
Babylonian influence upon the Jewish nation. The first stage in the
transformation was the adoption of the Babylonian month names. In the
Torah the months are numbered as First Month, Second Month, Third
Month, etc (Leviticus 23; Numbers 28). During their sojourn in
Babylonia our ancestors began to use the pagan Babylonian month names,
a fact readily admitted in the Talmud. As the Jewish People became
more comfortable with the Babylonian month names they became more
susceptible to other Babylonian influences." "Karaites allow no work
on the day except what is needed to prepare food (Leviticus 23:23,
Samaritans , in their strict interpretation of the Torah, preserve
the biblical name of the festival celebrated on the first day of the
seventh month (
Tishrei ), namely Yom Teruah, and in accordance with
Torah do not consider it to be a
New Year 's day.
Shofar blowing Yemenite-style shofar
Shofar blowing for Rosh Hashana, Ashkenaz version
Laws on the form and use of the shofar and laws related to the
religious services during the festival of
Rosh Hashanah are described
Rabbinic literature such as the
Mishnah that formed the basis of
the tractate "Rosh HaShanah" in both the Babylonian
Talmud and the
Talmud . This also contains the most important rules
concerning the calendar year.
The shofar is blown in long, short and staccato blasts that follow a
* Teki'ah (long sound) Numbers 10:3;
* Shevarim (3 broken sounds) Numbers 10:5;
* Teru'ah (9 short sounds) Numbers 10:9;
* Teki'ah Gedolah (very long sound) Exodus 19:16,19;
* Shevarim Teru'ah (3 broken sounds followed by 9 short sounds).
The shofar is blown at various instances during the Rosh Hashanah
prayers, and the total number of blasts over the day is 100.
ROSH HASHANAH EVE
The evening before
Rosh Hashanah day is known as Erev Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah eve"). As with
Rosh Hashanah day, it falls on the 1st
day of the
Hebrew month of
Tishrei , since days of the
begin at sundown. Some communities perform Hatarat nedarim (a
nullification of vows) after the morning prayer services during the
morning on the 29th of the
Hebrew month of
Elul , which ends at
sundown, when Erev
Rosh Hashanah commences. The mood becomes festive
but serious in anticipation of the new year and the synagogue
services. Many Orthodox men immerse in a mikveh in honor of the coming
DURATION AND TIMING
Jewish and Israeli holidays 2000–2050
Rosh Hashanah occurs 163 days after the first day of Passover
(Pesach). In terms of the
Gregorian calendar , the earliest date on
Rosh Hashanah can fall is September 5, as happened in 1899 and
again in 2013. The latest Gregorian date that
Rosh Hashanah can occur
is October 5, as happened in 1967 and will happen again in 2043. After
2089, the differences between the
Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian
calendar will result in
Rosh Hashanah falling no earlier than
Although the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle, so that the
first day of each month originally began with the first sighting of a
new moon, since the fourth century it has been arranged so that Rosh
Hashanah never falls on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday.
Rosh Hashanah as a one-day celebration, and since
days in the
Hebrew calendar begin at sundown, the beginning of Rosh
Hashanah is at sundown at the end of 29
Elul . The rules of the Hebrew
calendar are designed such that the first day of
Rosh Hashanah will
never occur on the first, fourth, or sixth day of the Jewish week
(i.e., Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday). Since the time of the
destruction of the
Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE and the time of
Yohanan ben Zakkai , normative Jewish law appears to be that
Rosh Hashanah is to be celebrated for two days, because of the
difficulty of determining the date of the new moon . Nonetheless,
there is some evidence that
Rosh Hashanah was celebrated on a single
Israel as late as the thirteenth century CE . Orthodox and
Judaism now generally observe
Rosh Hashanah for the first
two days of
Tishrei , even in
Israel where all other Jewish holidays
dated from the new moon last only one day. The two days of Rosh
Hashanah are said to constitute "Yoma Arichtah" (Aramaic: "one long
day"). In Reform
Judaism , some communities observe only the first day
of Rosh Hashanah, while others observe two days. Karaite
Jews , who do
not recognize Rabbinic Jewish oral law and rely on their own
understanding of the Torah, observe only one day on the first of
Tishrei, since the second day is not mentioned in the Written
Rosh Hashanah day, religious poems, called piyyuttim , are added
to the regular services . A special prayer book, the mahzor , is used
Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur (plural mahzorim). A number of
additions are made to the regular service, most notably an extended
repetition of the
Amidah prayer for both
Mussaf . The
Shofar is blown during
Mussaf at several intervals. (In many
synagogues, even little children come and hear the
blown.) Biblical verses are recited at each point. According to the
Mishnah , 10 verses (each) are said regarding kingship, remembrance,
and the shofar itself, each accompanied by the blowing of the shofar.
A variety of piyyutim , medieval penitential prayers, are recited
regarding themes of repentance. The Alenu prayer is recited during the
repetition of the
Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples dipped in honey to
symbolize a sweet new year. Other foods with a symbolic meaning may be
served, depending on local minhag ("custom"), such as the head of a
fish (to symbolize the prayer "let us be the head and not the tail").
Many communities hold a "
Rosh Hashanah seder" during which blessings
are recited over a variety of symbolic dishes. The blessings have
the incipit "Yehi ratzon", meaning "May it be Thy will." In many
cases, the name of the food in
Hebrew or Aramaic represents a play on
words (a pun). The Yehi Ratzon platter may include apples (dipped in
honey, baked or cooked as a compote called mansanada); dates;
pomegranates; black-eyed peas; pumpkin-filled pastries called
rodanchas; leek fritters called keftedes de prasa; beets; and a whole
fish with the head intact. It is also common to eat stuffed vegetables
called legumbres yaprakes.
Some of the symbolic foods eaten are dates , black-eyed peas , leek ,
spinach and gourd , all of which are mentioned in the
Talmud : “Let
a man be accustomed to eat on
New Year's Day
New Year's Day gourds (קרא), and
fenugreek (רוביא), leeks (כרתי), beet (סילקא), and
dates ( תמרי).” Pomegranates are used in many traditions, to
symbolize being fruitful like the pomegranate with its many seeds.
The use of apples dipped in honey, symbolizing a sweet year, is a late
Ashkenazi addition, though it is now almost universally
accepted. Typically, round challah bread is served, to symbolize the
cycle of the year.
Gefilte fish and
Lekach are commonly served by
Jews on this holiday. On the second night, new fruits are
served to warrant inclusion of the shehecheyanu blessing.
Rosh Hashanah jams prepared by Libyan
Rosh Hashanah foods: Apples dipped in honey,
pomegranates, wine for kiddush
Jews performing tashlikh on Rosh
Hashanah, painting by
Aleksander Gierymski , 1884
The ritual of tashlikh is performed on the afternoon of the first day
Rosh Hashanah by Ashkenazic and most Sephardic
Jews (but not by
Hebrew common greeting on
Rosh Hashanah is Shanah Tovah (
שנה טובה) (pronounced ), which translated from Hebrew
means " a good year". Often Shanah Tovah Umetukah (
Hebrew : שנה
טובה ומתוקה), meaning "A Good and Sweet Year", is
used. In Yiddish the greeting is אַ גוט יאָר "a gut yor" ("a
good year") or אַ גוט געבענטשט יאָר "a gut gebentsht
yor" ("a good blessed year"). The formal Sephardic greeting is Tizku
Leshanim Rabbot ("may you merit many years"), to which the answer is
Ne'imot VeTovot ("pleasant and good ones"). Less formally, people wish
each other "many years" in the local language.
A more formal greeting commonly used among religiously observant Jews
is Ketivah VaChatimah Tovah (
Hebrew : כְּתִיבָה
וַחֲתִימָה טוֹבָה), which translates as "A good
inscription and sealing ", or L'shanah tovah tikatevu v'tichatemu
meaning "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year". After
Rosh Hashanah ends, the greeting is changed to G’mar chatimah tovah
Hebrew : גמר חתימה טובה) meaning "A good final
Yom Kippur . After
Yom Kippur is over, until Hoshana
Rabbah , as
Sukkot ends, the greeting is Gmar Tov (
גְּמָר טוֹב), "a good conclusion".
The above describes three stages as the spiritual order of the month
Tishrei unfolds: On
Rosh Hashanah Jewish tradition maintains that
God opens the books of judgment of creation and all mankind starting
from each individual person, so that what is decreed is first written
in those books, hence the emphasis on the "ketivah" ("writing"). The
judgment is then pending and prayers and repentance are required. Then
on Yom Kippur, the judgment is "sealed " or confirmed (i.e. by the
Heavenly Court), hence the emphasis is on the word "chatimah"
("sealed"). But the Heavenly verdict is still not final because there
is still an additional hope that until
Sukkot concludes God will
deliver a final, merciful judgment, hence the use of "gmar" ("end")
that is "tov" ("good").
United States, 1900
United States, 1908
Tel Aviv, 1927
Montevideo , 1932
* Jewish greetings
Rosh Hashana kibbutz
* Christian observances of Jewish holidays: Feast of Trumpets
* ^ A B C D
Isidore Singer , J. F. McLaughlin,
Wilhelm Bacher ,
Judah David Eisenstein (1901–1906). "New-Year". Jewish Encyclopedia.
New York: Funk and Wagnalls. Retrieved 2015-09-13. CS1 maint: Uses
authors parameter (link )
* ^ A B C Jacobs, Louis. "Rosh Ha-Shanah." Encyclopaedia Judaica.
Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 17. 2nd ed. Detroit:
Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 463–466.
* ^ See Numbers 29:1
* ^ http://biblehub.com/exodus/34-18.htm
* ^ Mulder, Otto (2003). Simon the High Priest in Sirach 50: An
Exegetical Study of the Significance of Simon the High Priest As
Climax to the Praise of the Fathers in Ben Sira's Concept of the
History of Israel. BRILL. p. 170. ISBN 9789004123168 .
* ^ "OU on Elul". Ou.org. Archived from the original on March 23,
2006. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
* ^ Tractate on
Rosh Hashanah I,2
* ^ Tractate on Rosh Hashanah, I,16b
* ^ Psalms 69:29
* ^ ArtScroll Machzor, Rosh Hashanah. Overview, p. XV.
Maimonides , Yad , Laws of Repentance 3:4
* ^ Jewish Law permits the
Shofar to be blown in the presence of a
rabbinical court called the
Sanhedrin , which had not existed since
ancient times. A recent group of Orthodox rabbis in
Israel claiming to
constitute a modern
Sanhedrin held, for the first time in many years,
an Orthodox shofar-blowing on
Rosh Hashanah in 2006.
Shofar Blowing on
Shabbat (translation of Haaretz
* ^ A B C D "How Yom Teruah Became Rosh Hashanah". Nehemia's Wall.
September 26, 2014. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
* ^ "History". The Karaite
Jews of America. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
* ^ Tractate
Rosh Hashanah 1:1
* ^ "Rosh HaShanah and the Gregorian calendar". Oztorah.com.
* ^ A B Tractate
Rosh Hashanah 20a
* ^ A popular mnemonic is "lo adu rosh" ("Rosh is not on adu"),
where adu has the numerical value 1-4-6 (corresponding to the
numbering of days in the Jewish week, in which Saturday night and
Sunday daytime make up the first day).
* ^ Rav David Bar-Hayim. "Rosh HaShanna One day or Two?". Machon
Jerusalem : Machon Shilo. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
Includes link for Audio Shiur in English
* ^ Exploring Sephardic Customs and Traditions, Marc Angel, p. 49
* ^ Maimon Family Yehi Ratzones
* ^ The Orthodox Union Yehi Ratzones
* ^ Sternberg, Robert The Sephardic Kitchen: The Healthful Food and
Rich Culture of the Mediterranean Jews, Harper Collins, 1996, pp.
320–321, ISBN 0-06-017691-1
* ^ Babylonian
Talmud (Keritot 6a)
Rashi (ibid.) calls rubia by its
Hebrew name "tiltan" (Heb.
תלתן), which word he explains elsewhere as being fenugreek .
Hai Gaon , in one of his responsum in "Otzar
Ha-Geonim", seems to suggest that "rubia" (Heb. רוביא) means
cowpeas, or what others call, "black-eyed peas" (פול המצרי).
Hai Gaon 's disciple, Rabbi
Nissim ben Jacob (in his Commentary
known as Ketav Hamafteah), thus explains the word לוביא, in our
case spelled רוביא, as meaning non-other than cowpeas (פול
המצרי), describing them as having a "dark eye in its center."
Jews of North-Africa traditionally make use of stringed beans in place
* ^ A B Spice and Spirit: The Complete Kosher Jewish Cookbook,
1990, New York, p. 508
* ^ A B Posner, Menachem. "What Is Shanah Tovah?
New Year Greeting
Translation and More: The meaning of the traditional Rosh Hashanah
wishes". Chabad.org. Retrieved 2014-09-21.
* ^ A B Bottner, Lauren (September 21, 2011). "From
Simchat Torah". Jewish Journal. TRIBE Media. Retrieved 2014-09-21.
* ^ "Jewish Holiday Greeting Chart". Patheos.com. July 26, 2012.
* Angel, Marc (2000). Exploring Sephardic Customs and Traditions.
Hoboken, N.J.: KTAV Pub. House in association with American Sephardi
Federation, American Sephardi Federation—South Florida Chapter,
Sephardic House. ISBN 0-88125-675-7 .
Look up ROSH HASHANAH in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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* Rosh Hashana Prayers For Sephardic Jews
Torah Content on Rosh Hashana – Text, audio & video classes,