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CULTURE & HERITAGE - Culture & History

Rosh Hashanah
A day of judgment and coronation, the sounding of the shofar...

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Yemenite-style shofar

Psalm 81

« Sing aloud unto God our strength :make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.
2- Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
3- Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day…
10- I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the Land of Egypt:open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it…… “

The theme of the prayers is the "coronation" of God as King of the universe in preparation for the acceptance of judgments that will follow on that day.
 
ChagallSacrifice

According to the biblical story, God commands Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. (Genesis 22:5 and 22:8). After Isaac is bound to an altar, the angel of God stops Abraham at the last minute, saying "now I know you fear God." At this point Abraham sees a ram caught in some nearby bushes and sacrifices the ram instead of Isaac.

The shofar is blown in long, short and staccato blasts that follow a set sequence:
  • Teki'ah (long sound) Numbers 10:3;
  • Shevarim (3 broken sounds) Numbers 10:5;
  • Teru'ah (9 short sounds) Numbers 10:9;
  • Teki'ah Gedolah (very long sound) Exodus 19:16,19;
  • Shevarim Teru'ah (3 broken sounds followed by 9 short sounds).
The total number of blasts on Rosh Hashana is 100.

The shofar is traditionally blown each morning for the entire month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the shofar is intended to awaken the listeners from their "slumbers" and alert them to the coming judgment.The shofar is not blown on Shabbat

Symbolic foods

Traditional Rosh Hashanah foods: Apples and honey, pomegranates, wine for kiddush.

Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples and honey, to symbolize a sweet new year. Other foods with a symbolic meaning may be served, depending on local minhag ("custom"), such as the head of a fish (to symbolize the "head" of the year).

Some of the symbolic foods eaten are dates, black-eyed peas, leek, spinach and gourd, all of which are mentioned in the Talmud. Pomegranates are used in many traditions, to symbolize being fruitful like the pomegranate with its many seeds. The use of apples and honey, symbolizing a sweet year, is a late medieval Ashkenazi addition, though it is now almost universally accepted. Typically, round challah bread is served, to symbolize the cycle of the year. Gefilte fish and Lekach are commonly served by Ashkenazic Jews on this holiday. On the second night, new fruits are served to warrant inclusion of the shehecheyanu blessing.

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