Rosh Hashanah

A member of an Orthodox Jewish sect blows the Shofar after engaging in a brief prayer with a passerby last year in New York. A Shofar is an instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal, blown on Rosh Hashanah to mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year and calling Jewish faithfuls to prayer.

I would like to share a perspective of why the Jewish New Year, that will be celebrated this year on September 6-8, is an important day for our growth.

We are about to enter the 5782nd year since creation. In the last 100 years alone, we have completely modernized our way of living, leaving little resemblance to the lifestyle of our ancestors.

With these changes, are we moving closer or further from our Maker? Are we losing touch and our connection?

No, the bond is still there and just as strong as ever. When G-d shines His energy into the world, it is not recycled from the year before, nor from ten or hundred years ago. G-d continuously provides a new and fresh energy. G-d is a very present creator and constantly breathes life into each creation. And therefore century-old techniques to eternalize G-d’s energy are no longer sufficient. After all, we are getting a different, new spiritual force.

We may not be losing our inherent connection but we may be losing focus.

While I was compiling some of my talking points to share during these coming High Holidays, I found a cohesive message connecting Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur (celebrated this year on September 15-16), and then to the final Jewish holiday of the month — Simchat Torah (celebrated this year September 26th-28th).

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, brings out and solidifies our commitment to G-d. This is not so much about our desire or personal connection to G-d. In short: G-d is King and therefore I must obey.

Then comes Yom Kippur, the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar. It was the only day in the year where a human would enter the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple where a heartfelt prayer was recited, full of passion and love. In short: The power of this holiday is expressing a true feeling of closeness to G-d.

Then comes the the final holiday when we conclude the yearly cycle of studying Torah. On this day we are celebrating our minds’ contributions to G-d’s infinite wisdom. We are taking the potential from G-d’s rulership over us (from Rosh Hashanah) and our deep relationship with G-d (from Yom Kippur) and actualizing upon it. We are learning and growing from His Torah.

And, when we bring G-d’s wisdom into the minds of today, we can truly say that we have not lost our mark and we are moving even closer.

For more information on the High Holidays, visit

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Submitted by Rabbi Benzion Shemtov