The Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah is most widely known as the “Jewish New Year.”
Indeed, it is.
Rosh Hashanah is a time of celebration, excitement and hope as the Jewish faithful look forward to a new year of God’s providence in their lives. In anticipation of the good to come many traditional Jewish households enjoy meals together marked by the ritual eating of apples and honey, symbolizing the sweet hope of a new year.
However, Rosh Hashanah is also the beginning of the Yamim Noraim, the “Days of Fear.”
The contemporary moniker for these days is “the High Holy Days.”
In this period the Hebrew people are called to teshuvah, or repentance.
Looking back on the year that passed and recalling the faults, failures and frailty of humanity Jews, and all others who know the meaning of Rosh Hashanah, are brought to their knees as they comprehend the overwhelming powerlessness of humanity and the astounding power of God Almighty.
During these ten days of teshuvah the faithful are called to contemplate their sin and their tenuous existence all before the mighty power of Adonai.
There are various rituals that accompany Rosh Hashanah and prepare the hearts of the faithful for the Days of Awe.
Included among these is the sounding of the shofar, the selichot, the recitation of Psalm 27 and even the tashlikh. Among the many penitential prayers that are given one of them is held in particularly high regard; the Unetaneh Tokef (literally, “let us proclaim”).
There is a set of lines that struck me today:
You (LORD) have created us and know what we are. We are but flesh and blood. The human origin is dust, and dust is our end. Each of us is a shattered urn, grass that must wither, a flower that will fade, a shadow moving on, a cloud passing by, a particle of dust floating on the wind, a dream soon forgotten. But You are the Sovereign Ruler, the everlasting God.
At this time of Rosh Hashanah may we all remember our frailty and limited being. May we all see the overwhelming sovereignty of God and look forward to the time when He will restore all of us to permanence and this world to everlasting glory in his time and by his power. May we all look forward to this recreation and this restoration to come, both now and at the end of all things (Revelation 21 and 22).
Happy New Year!