Happy New Year!
Yes, we know, there are several months left in 2007. According to the Hebrew calendar, however, it is soon to be the year 5768. The Hebrew calendar differs from the one most people use, first because it calculates how many years have passed since Creation, according to Jewish tradition. Also, the names of the Hebrew months are different than your usual Hallmark calendar. The Hebrew calendar also differs in that it is a lunar-based calendar, so the length of each month is determined by the time it takes the moon to revolve around the earth. So, while the Jewish holidays occur on the same date of the Hebrew calendar each year, the corresponding date on the “regular” calendar will vary from one year to the next.
Rosh Hashanah (meaning “head of the year”) is the first of the High Holy Days, and falls on the first and second days of Tishri, the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. This year, the holiday begins at sundown on September 12. The Bible does not refer to the holiday as the New Year, but rather as the Feast of Trumpets—the day of a solemn assembly when the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown (Leviticus 23:23-25). The shofar’s blast calls us to repentance. As believers in Y’shua, this also reminds us of the coming resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus was the firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20, 51-52). Rosh Hashanah is a day of rest and we enjoy sweets, particularly apples dipped in honey or honey cake, to symbolize the sweetness of the coming year. (See page 6 for a delicious honey cake recipe.)
After the introspection and solemnity of the ten Days of Awe following Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will begin on the tenth day of Tishri, which this year is sundown on September 21. God commanded the Israelites to rest and fast on this day each year (Leviticus 23:26-32), the high priest went into the Most Holy Place, bringing a sacrifice to atone for, or cover, the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:29-34). We know that in contrast to those earthly high priests, who had to make atonement for the Israelites every year, Y’shua, our great high priest, entered the Most Holy Place by His own blood (Hebrews 9:12), offering Himself as an atoning sacrifice for our sins once and for all (Hebrews 7:25-27).
If you have Jewish friends, it is most appropriate to greet them with a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) card at any time this month prior to the actual Day of Atonement. Also, your Jewish friends would probably be surprised and delighted if you offer them the spoken greeting “L’shanah tovah” (“to a good year”).