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Rosh HaShanah

Two surprising things about Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – that many Christians may not know

Also – why do Jews also use Hebrew letters to refer to the Jewish year and not just numbers?

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Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year, is translated from Hebrew to English as “the head (rosh) or beginning of the year (ha-shanah).”

This Jewish holiday or biblical feast is surprisingly not called Rosh Hashanah in the Bible. Instead, it is referred to as the Day of Remembrance (Yom Hazikaron in Hebrew) or the Feast of Trumpets or the Day of the Blowing of the Shofar (Yom Teruah in Hebrew) (Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1-6).

A second surprising fact about Rosh Hashanah is that it begins on the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, not the first month. Today’s solar-based Gregorian calendar starts with the first month, January, so we would naturally assume that the first month of the lunar-based Hebrew calendar starts the year.

But the first Hebrew month is called Nissan and is in the spring. That makes Passover the first holiday or Jewish feast of the year starting on the 15th day of Nissan. 

The seventh month of the lunar-based Hebrew calendar is called Tishrei and occurs in the fall, and Feast of Trumpets (or Rosh Hashanah) is the first day of the seventh month.

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. (Leviticus 23:23-24)

On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets. (Numbers 29:1

Today is the beginning of the Jewish year 5784

The years of the modern-day Gregorian calendar mark the time from Jesus’ birth, approximately 2023 years ago. The year count of the Jewish calendar dates back to the creation of the world in Genesis 1. Today in Israel, we are ending the year 5783 and, at sundown, the new year of 5784 begins.

The Hebrew year is not only written with numbers, but is also known by the corresponding Hebrew letters. Each letter in Hebrew has a numerical value. Hence, the upcoming Jewish year is known as tav-shin-peh-dalet (תשפ"ד) which equates to 784. The 5000 is assumed and is not written with a Hebrew letter.

Tav (ת) represents 400.

Shin (ש) represents 300.

Peh (פ) represents 80.

Dalet (ד) represents 4. (dalet is the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet).


To learn more about Rosh Hashanah, watch this video produced by Jewish Voice.

Transcript of video above

In Israel, when we start seeing children go back to school we know Rosh Hashanah is near. Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year. It means "head of the year" and marks the day God created Adam and Eve. It also coincides with "Yom Teruah", the feast of shofar known as Feast of Trumpets, which we see in Leviticus 23.

We celebrate the new year with the circle of braided challah bread, representing the circle of life. Another traditional treat are apples dipped in honey to bless friends and family for a sweet year ahead. It's also the Day of Remembrance and the Day of Judgment, to get things in order.

Rosh Hashanah is exactly 10 days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In the Jewish tradition, during those 10 days of awe, God pronounces judgment on the life of each Jewish person. It is believed that during those 10 days, repentance, good works and making amends for sins can change God's mind and lead to a favorable year ahead. Believers of Jesus know that repentance, good works and making amends are all worthwhile. But the atonement of our sin only comes through faith in Yeshua and his sacrificial death on the cross.

For Jewish believers, Rosh Hashanah then becomes a time of both reflection and gratitude for that incredible gift. The blowing of the shofar is heard throughout the Hebrew Bible and Joshua, chapter 6, the trumpet was what brought down the walls of Jericho and became the first conquest in the promised land by the Israelites. A trumpet blast was also a call to worship, a call to battle, a warning and a wake up call.

In the End of Days, the trumpet signals the rising of the dead, God's final judgment and the final redemption of Israel. If all this sounds a little ominous, rest assured Rosh Hashanah is still a time of joy. You may even want to get your own shofar to open up the heavens and give praise to the Lord. Turn to Leviticus, chapter 23, and you'll find a helpful description of the appointed feasts of the Lord. But for now, as you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we wish you a "shanah tova u'metuka," which means a good and sweet year.

Joseph Magen is Co-Founder and Chief of Operations for ALL ISRAEL NEWS. He has more than 20 years of experience in high-tech, software development, real esate, and venture capital. Joseph lives outside of Jerusalem with his wife and five young children.

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