L’shanah Tovah

courtesy washingtonpost.com

Sunset last night marked the start of Rosh Hashanah, commonly known as the Jewish New Year because Rosh Hashanah means, literally, the first of the year.  However, while New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are dedicated to partying and football, Rosh Hashanah begins the holiest of days in Judaism, the so called Days of Awe, which end ten days later with Yom Kippur.  In Jewish tradition, God writes our names in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah, which determines who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year.  Actions we take during the Days of Awe, specifically repentance, prayer and good deeds, can alter God’s written decree, which is why Jews greet each other with the words L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem meaning, May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Jews usually begin the holiday with dinner including a traditional round challah (egg bread) symbolizing the cycle of life, and apples dipped in honey, symbolizing the sweetness of life.  Most of the day is spent in the synagogue attending extended services focusing on the goodness and sovereignty of God.   One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar, notes blown using the horn of a sheep.  You can hear it in this video or read about it here.

Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh, a casting off in which we empty something from our pockets … usually stones brought along for the purpose … into a lake or river, symbolically casting off our sins.

Muri and I haven’t belonged to a synagogue for quite a while, but we’ll be in the park when this posts, reading from the the machzor, a special prayerbook used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Sometimes, I find a sermon written by a prominent Rabbi and we read it together.   We’ll walk to the edge of the lake and cast our stones into the glassy water but we won’t blow the shofar.   We’ll wish each other L’Shannah Tovah, hoping for a good year ahead.   I don’t believe in everything we read or do, but I believe as a spiritual practice, it makes us better as a family.  And that’s enough.

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10 Comments on “L’shanah Tovah”

  1. muri Says:

    L’Shanah Tovah Bud.

  2. Anything that leads us to becoming better people is worth observing. L’Shanah Tovah!

  3. granny1947 Says:

    Like lighting the candles on a Friday night….I love that custom.
    I don’t seem to be getting most of my notifications…don’t know what has gone wrong!

  4. Agreed totally with your theory on anything that makes you a better family, gives your mind, body and soul a lift -surely is a darned good thing and a beautiful tradition then to follow!

  5. ceceliafutch Says:

    Tashlick is one of our favorite observances. Something very special about it, and starting the year with a clean slate. Lovely post.

  6. shofar Says:

    great poste,you can find more shofar movies here http://www.shofar.co/?section=42&item=30
    Enjoy 🙂

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