The Ultimate Guide to Rosh Hashanah
At Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, we greet each other with “L’shanah tovah,” which means, “To a good year.”
It’s also the most spectacular sugar-high of the year. We eat apples and honey, devour our bubbe’s honey cakes, teglach (honey balls) and a table brimming with other delights all in the service of wishing each other a sweet New Year.
But Rosh Hashanah is not all bonbons and desserts.
The next eight days (“Days of Awe”) lead us from a dazzling high to a bitter low, if we prepare our hearts for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
This is the time to take stock of our sins, transgressions, and failures to live a God-pleasing life.
“Life is full of mistakes and transgressions. Without atonement it would be unbearable to go on living with the unresolved and painful pieces of our past,” writes Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in his piece in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).
It’s a time to admit our arrogance, how many people we’ve hurt with our broken promises, the terrible thoughts we think most of the time.
Sadly, we discover that we’re perfectly happy to live our lives without giving God much thought.
It’s at this time of year when we are given the opportunity to pause and think about these things, to repent and turn to the Lord for forgiveness, and to make amends with the people we’ve hurt.
But even with all this spiritual activity, three questions continue to gnaw at us:
- How do we know if we’ve uncovered every sin and transgression we’ve committed?
- When do we know we’ve repented enough?
- Does that mean our names are blotted out of the Book of Life?
However, if we remember that it’s not all about us and shift our focus this season to God, and what He has done for us instead of what we’re doing (or falling short of doing) for Him, then we have reason to rejoice.
God provided a substitute, His Son Jesus (Yeshua) who atoned for our sins by His death on the cross.
“And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12 NKJV)
The gnawing doubt is gone.
The only enough that God requires is to believe in Yeshua because He’s done it all!
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1 NKJV)
The heavens are open and we hear God welcoming us into his family and sealing our names in the Book of Life.
Now that’s worth celebrating this Rosh Hashanah. It marks the beginning of a very sweet New Year and forever for that matter!