Moving into the New Year

September 30, 2016

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, September 30, 2016.

Moving into the New Year

Sunday night is the Eve of Rosh HaShanah. It is a holiday commanded in the Torah, although it’s not called Rosh HaShanah – The Head of the Year, or New Year. In the Torah it’s actually called “Yom HaTru’ah” – the Day of Blasts of the Ram’s Horn! In keeping with the theme of spiritual awakening and repentance, the blasts of the rams horn are symbolic of waking up, understanding the realities of life, and atoning for sin. In fact, the Torah tells us that this holiday comes in the SEVENTH month! Not the FIRST month as you might imagine, but the SEVENTH! What? How could it be the seventh month? There Rabbis, 2000 years ago discuss this at length. According to tradition, Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world.  So . . . was the world created in Month One (Nisan)? Or Month Seven (Tishri), They asked each other. Which is the New Year. The consensus was that the world was created in Tishri . . . but EVERYONE is right! In fact, the rabbis told us, there are FOUR New Years! Nisan 1 is the New Year for Kings (a king’s reign is determined from that date), and for months since Nisan is the first month.  Elul 1 is the new year for counting animals that must be tithed (it’s kind of the April 15 of antiquity). Shevat 15 in the winter is the New Year for the trees. And … Tishri 1 is the new year for years, and for the anniversary for the creation of the world. This indeed sounds strange – how could we have four new years? If you really think about it, however, all of us celebrate multiple new years. Jewish New Year in Tishri. The secular New Year in January. The School year in September. The Tax Year in April. When I was in Hong Kong, the Chinese New Year in January (or February) was a national holiday!

So . . . for this one of our many new years. And our special Jewish New Year, I wish all of you a Happy New Year.

Shanah Tovah,

And Shabbat Shalom.