The Customs of Rosh Hashanah

The Customs of Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah falls on the first of Tishri, a Jewish month which falls in September. It is regarded as a high holy day, on which all normal activity ceases. Even those Jews who are not particularly observant will make an effort to attend the synagogue. It is known as Yomim Norain, or day of awe. It is a day on which one should show humility to God and acknowledge that whatever our intentions may be we will descend into sin. On this day one should become particularly aware of sin, as it is a day for reflection. It is not intended to be a negative activity, but to induce positive behavior, as it is very brave to face up to weaknesses and mistakes . Rosh Hashanah is a one-day festival, and is called the New Year festival. The word Rosh means ?head?, and Hashanah means ?year?, with the implication that it is the start of a new year. It is also referred to as Yom Teruah, the day of the blowing of the horn, or shofar. Another name for it is Yom Haldim, or Day of Judgement. It comes from the book of Leviticus, part of the Tenakh- ?In the seventh month, keep the first day as a solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with the blasts of horns.? Preparations for Rosh Hashanah begin in Elul, the month prior to Tishri, as the customs are extended to Elul. The shofar is sounded in services, and special prayers called Selicoth, or pardon, are recited.
People go and visit the graces of deceased relatives. It is also the best time for Tzedakah, or charity. During Elul, all disputes must be settled. Rosh Hashanah begins in the evening, as this is the start of the Jewish day. They have a festive meal, containing lots of sweet things, such as apple dipped in honey. This is in the hope that God will make the events of the next year sweet. Often, fish is served, wit the symbolism that fish swim in shoals, and good deeds should be as plentiful as the fish in a shoal. Nuts are never served, as letters in Hebrew have numerical value, and the word nut has the same numerical value as the word sin. The next morning it is customary for the whole family to go to the synagogue, which will be decorated in white. In particular, the Parochet, which hangs in front of the ark ? every fabric is decked out in white, a symbol of purity, to inspire a purer life. The rabbi will also be wearing white, to symbolize a burial shroud, called a Kittel, reminding one of mortality. The service proceeds with normal prayers, such as the Shinaar, the prevalent theme being that God is the King. The shofar is sounded throughout, with three distinctive notes - Tekiah, which is firm, Shebharim, which is a broken sound, and Teruah, which is a tremor. The readings that take place are focused on motherhood, particularly on the conception of Isaac. The last action of the festival takes place in the afternoon. It is called Tashlich, meaning casting, casting away. Something should be symbolically cast away into some water, casting away sin. b) Explain how Yom Kippur might affect the life of a Jew Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. This is taken to mean that humans should be at one with God, but sin gets in the way, and on this day Jews reflect upon their sins. The word ?Yom? means day, and ?Kippur? means scrubbing or scouring, so it is a festival for cleansing your soul. Jews regard this day as the most holy day of the year. It is a fast day, as it is a day to turn the focus from yourself and your own personal needs, and onto god, which means no food, drink, sex, makeup, and may other luxuries. Even those Jews who are not particularly observant will make an effort to go to the synagogue. At the synagogue, the siddur lists 46 different kinds of sin. The first reading in the morning is taken from Leviticus, which tells what used to happen on Yom Kippur in the days of the Temple. The High Priest was permitted to enter the holy of holies, and take with him2 goats. The first goat was offered sacrificially to God. The other, he would pray over, and symbolically load all the sins of the community onto it. It was then thrown off a cliff. The festival of Yom Kippur has always been important to Jews, and has always been about purifying the soul, though the method of doing so has obviously changed since the days of the Temple. Spending a whole day focusing on the spiritual, rather than material aspects of your life, with the main objective being repentance must cause most individuals to re-evaluate things, and realize the importance of some aspects of their life. The fact that Jews are already following a religion means that they must set some importance in their spiritual well being, and this is furthered by the fact that they spend a day in repentance. Yom Kippur would make you more aware of your actions, and how they affect others around you. It must cause them to realise the importance of living their life being the best person they can, and following the laws of their God. c) ?Everybody should spend at least one day a year thinking about what they have done wrong.? Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Judaism in your answer. If a day is spent in reflection, it can be a very constructive exercise, if it is done with a positive attitude. However, if the day is spent dwelling on wrongdoings, then it could have a very bad effect on you. When Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, they are acknowledging their weaknesses, and trying to make amends. God did not create humans as perfect beings, which is why we all have flaws and weaknesses. Though it is wrong to sin, celebrating Yom Kippur is a Jew?s way of apologising to God, and trying to make something good come of their mistakes. Yom Kippur helps Jews to learn from their past actions, and show their humility to God. Though it is a solemn day for Jews, they do not see it as something negative, because they are repenting for their sins, and trying to erase them. By confessing, and repenting, the guilt that they may feel for their wrong actions can be erased, and their conscience cleared. However, spending a whole day thinking about everything you have done wrong over a period of a year can be a very daunting idea. It could be a very destructive action, if one does not go about it in the right way. Jews see Yom Kippur as something positive, as it is a learning experience, but if it is not seen as something good, no good can come of it. If it is carried out with the right attitude and outlook, it can be a very healthy helpful thing to do.

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