Beginning at sundown today, observant Jews throughout the world will begin a two-day observation of Rosh Hashanah, the “head of the year” or the new year. Rosh Hashanah begins the 10 Days of Awe, sometimes called the High Holy Days, culminating Sept. 13 with Yom Kippur.
Jewish tradition teaches that, during this period, God consults the book of judgment to determine who will live and who will die, who will prosper and who will not, during the coming year. Since God’s judgment can be tempered by mercy and evidence of repentance, this is a time of self-evaluation, of acknowledging one’s sins and shortcomings during the previous year, of making amends to those whom one has wronged and making a plan to live the next year in line with commandments to treat other human beings and all the creatures of the Earth with respect and kindness, to do charity and uphold justice.
During Rosh Hashanah, Jews strive to deepen their willing acceptance of God not only as the sovereign of their own lives but as sovereign of the universe. Among the customs of the holiday are to greet others with a wish for a good year and the blowing of the shofar, a trumpet made of a ram’s horn, 100 times. During the tashlich ceremony, bread is cast upon flowing water, symbolizing the casting off of sins and watching them being carried away. Apples dipped in honey are eaten in the hope of a sweet year ahead.
Whatever one’s beliefs, a time of self-assessment and resolve to improve our relations with others is profoundly healthy. To all our readers, then, L’Shanah Tovah, “for a good year.”
This editorial, by the late Alan W. Bock, was originally published Sept. 18, 2009.
Republished from the Orange County Register. Distributed by Creators.com.