Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rosh HaShanah; A Description and My Prayer

This year Rosh HaShanah will begin the evening of Sept. 28, 2011.  Rosh HaShanah is typically celebrated by the blowing of the shofar and a meal with family and friends. Apples, honey and challah are traditional fare.   Rosh HaShanah means, "head of the year."  We find the scripture pertaining to  the observance of this festival in:
Leviticus 23:23-25   

And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying,  “Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you have a rest, a remembrance of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart gathering.
 ‘You do no servile work, and you shall bring an offering made by fire (food offering) to יהוה.’ ”

The time between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is to be used as a time of teshuvah, meaning "returning to one's self" or looking at ourselves for repentance.  During this time, we step back and assess the previous year in order to:
*Come closer to YHWH
*Clarify our life's goals
*A time to truly consider our purpose in life, not just moving with the flow of life around us.
*Take time to look at ourselves critically and honestly, with the intention of improving.   Perhaps, more important than knowing what I will do is knowing what I am doing and how well I do it.

It is during this time of introspection that we can take the opportunity to begin life anew through repentance (we can repent everyday, this is just a time of year where we are reminded that there will come a time when it is too late to repent either because time is no more or because of our own demise).  We can recognize evil and turn away from it and turn to YHWH for understanding of His ways and strive to apply them each day in our lives.

 YHWH's compassion toward repentance

Luk 15:3  And He spoke this parable to them, saying,
Luk 15:4  “What man among you, having a hundred sheep, and having lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
Luk 15:5  “And having found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luk 15:6  “And having come home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
Luk 15:7  “I say to you that in the same way there shall be more joy in the heaven over one sinner repenting, than over ninety-nine righteous ones who need no repentance.

2Pe 3:8  But, beloved ones, let not this one matter be hidden from you: that with יהוה one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 
2Pe 3:9  יהוה is not slow in regard to the promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 
2Pe 3:10  But the day of יהוה shall come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with intense heat, and the earth and the works that are in it shall be burned up. 

Turning to Good

True repentance involves not only a change of heart but a change of action as well-- turning away from bad and turning toward good or as David says in Ps. 34:14:  Turn away from evil and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it. 

Seeking and pursuing are a daily task, a daily chore, one that requires diligence and focus but must be applied if we are to achieve our goal.  

During this time, evening and morning prayers are recited by the Jewish people and they recite Ps 27 which speaks of David's heart toward YHWH--he says, "One thing I ask from YHWH...that I may dwell in the house of YHWH all the days of my life."  This can only take place if we strive, seek and pursue YHWH's presence.

Time to Wake Up

The shofar is one of the symbols of Rosh Hashanah because in the scriptures is gave the sound to the people for when it was time to break camp, go to arms, usher in Feast days and the Sabbath.  During Rosh HaShanah it's use is the same, it is sounded as a wake up call to perform teshuvah (repentance) and moral introspection.  A Jewish Philosopher said this about the use of the shofar:

"Awake, o you sleepers, awake from your sleep!  Search your deeds and turn in repentance."

The story of Abe and Isaac in Genesis 22, describes Abe's willingness to sacrifice his only son and  is read on Rosh HaShanah.  The ram, whose horn was caught in the bushes, was sacrificed in place of Isaac.  The ram's horn became an eternal symbol of Abe's and Isaac's trust in YHWH, even in the face of death.  

The Shofar is also sounded as a reminder of YHWH's promise to bring the Messiah who will usher into the world physical and spiritual peace--literal, eternal, once for all, peace.  A promise soon to be completed by our Messiah Yahshuah. 

My Prayer

My prayer and my thoughts are tending toward this matter of self introspection or soul searching but more importantly than the searching of my own soul, the searching for what it means to turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  This is what I find myself desiring to do.  My hope is to find understanding and cling to it, to make it part of my being, one with me and to remember everyday and in every situation that YHWH is present, here, now.  THIS moment, THIS place, THIS situation is where He can be found of me.  This time and place is where He is waiting for me to come and repent and petition Him.  He is omnipresent, I am not.  I should not do anything but learn from the past, not dwell there...I am unable to affect what is gone by.  I should not spend too much time musing about what will be, it has not come to be yet and I have little of my own power to affect it.  But YHWH is HERE right NOW, He can do everything and I desire that I should be where He is, mediating, musing, speaking, searching His ways so that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life.  This is a lesson I am pursuing and striving to hold so that He may accomplish a good work in me.  May it be so.  Amein

*I found and used here, much of my Rosh HaShanah information in, "Holy Days of Israel" by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
It was very informational as I studied this coming Holy Day.

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