Rosh Hashanah: Not the New Years You Thought It Was
If Rosh Hashanah could be summed up in one word, that word would be; love, potential, and life. (Okay, so that’s three words, what are you going to do?)
Let’s take a look at each of these words and reflect on their meaning in the context of Rosh Hashanah. Follow me:
If you have heard anything about Rosh Hashanah, what you have probably heard is either that it is the “Jewish New Years” or that it is the Day of Judgment. Well, I’m here to tell you that while both are true, they are also very misunderstood. Let’s consider the notion of judgment. The truth is, the prospect of judgment is very uncomfortable and nobody likes to be judged. We don’t like to be judged by a boss, a teacher, and certainly not by our peers. At the same time, there is a very beautiful dimension to judgment. Think about parents and children. Parents are concerned about, and judge, a whole range of items related to their children. Parents are concerned about their children’s grades in school, what kind of lunch they have, what kinds of friends they associate with, what websites they frequent, and a lot more. From the child’s perspective, this can seem a bit intrusive, but the truth is, there is only one reason why parents are so interested in virtually every detail of their children’s lives: it’s because they deeply love their children. In fact, one of the most devastating things a parent can do to a child is not to judge. Why? Because a parent who isn’t interested in what their child is doing is sending a message that says clearly—“I don’t care about you.” A child who hears such a message will inevitably draw the conclusion that they are not worth their parents attention, and that, is about the most destructive message a child can absorb.
On Rosh Hashanah, when we say that God “sits in judgment” what we are saying is that God loves us: He cares about each and every one of us, He cares about who we are, how we live, and whether or not we are actualizing the potential He gave us. That the creator of the universe actually cares about “little ‘ol me” is a remarkably empowering and life-giving idea. The reality that we confront on Rosh Hashanah is one that highlights the intrinsic value and preciousness of every life in the eyes of God.
On Passover we celebrate the Exodus from Egypt, on Chanukah we celebrate the defeat of the Greeks and the miracle of the oil. Did you ever wonder what we are celebrating on Rosh Hashanah? Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the first human being. The Jewish year begins with focusing on the awesome nature and potential that exists within each of us. When you look at the world around you, it’s clear that God is not only quite powerful, but very, very creative. That being the case, God could have launched Mankind with a family, a village or a whole planet filled with people: why did He begin with just one person? Jewish tradition teaches that God began with one person to teach us about the fantastic potential inherent in each of us. Each of us has the ability to have an impact on the entire world and each of us is capable of making a world of difference. As we stand at the threshold of a new year we ask ourselves some simple questions: “What can I do in the coming year to actualize more of my potential?” “How can I contribute, even in a small way, to making the world a better place?” “What can I do to make a difference in someone else’s life?”
Every Rosh Hashanah represents a vote of confidence from God in our individual, personal potential. Every Rosh Hashanah also presents us with a fresh opportunity to unlock more and more of that great God-given gift.
Throughout the Rosh Hashanah prayers, we ask God to “Remember us for life” and “Inscribe us in the Book of Life.” When we greet one another we say “May you have a good year, and may you be written and sealed for a year of good life and peace.”
Our prayers for life are meant to be understood at face value—we want to live—but they also have a deeper meaning. Consider this: I once met a Holocaust survivor who said, “I would choose to go through all those years in Auschwitz again rather than spend one day of my life as a Nazi.” That is an incredible statement, and what it means, I believe, is this: one can be alive, strong, and healthy yet be “dead” at the same time. A life lived in the boots of a Nazi, or under the flag of Al-Qaida or Hezbollah, is a life utterly drained of all meaning. You see, there are certain choices that we make, and certain courses of action that we pursue, that have the ability to infuse life with “life,” and there are others that drain life of everything God intended it for. On Rosh Hashanah, we not only ask for life, we strive to be people who embrace the kinds of values, ideals, and choices that will fill our days with life: With meaning, with goodness, with spirituality—with life!
I would like to wish all of you a Shana Tova, a good sweet year, health and happiness for the entire world. Happy Rosh Hashanah and Happy New Year to you and all of Israel with a sweet new year- a new beginning. May the Lord bless you and keep you Shalom
30 thoughts on “The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah”
Very cool version! 🙂
Thank you Erika, hope all is well with you!
Hi, Mihran. Thank you ☺ yes, all well. I am on vacation right now ☺ hope you are doing well too ☺
Hi Erika – enjoy your vacation – let your week smile for you!
☺thank you, Mihran 😀 and I will join my week in it 😆
Thank you for such a beautiful blessing! I did not know the meaning of Rosh Hashanah and am delighted to know. I am going to offer a blessing in return, but you must tell me if I have misunderstood the meaning of the word. May your year be blessed with the shechinah of God. I am told that this word implies a resting or settling of God upon you and that is my wish.
Thank you for your such detailed and warm words, it means a lot to me. May God Bless you!
I resonate with love, potential and life… Wonderful post… Barbara
Thank you Barbara for your kind words – hope all is well with you.
Peace, love, and blessings to you Mino.
May God Bless you and bring much more joy, laughter and happiness!
Sending you loads of love and blessing, Mihran… 🙂
Thank you for your kind words, May God Bless you!
Many blessings to you.
May God Bless you and many more success to you and your family!
Thank you very much Mihrank!
What a wonderful informative post!
Thank you, very much appreciative…May God Bless you!
Dear Mino ….you spread such a golden light ! You , your beautiful writing on subjects I know so little of , and your gorgeous and majestic music so filled with love , always touches my spirit in ways that inspire goodness , hope and peace …thank you dear friend …love and blessings , megxxx
Dear Meg – I am touched by your words and humbled – I wish you a blessed and shinning moments…Let every moment and step brings your success and joy:)
Lovely. Brightest blessings to you and yours, Mihran.
Hi Teagan – many more blessings to you and much more success!
This is so cool! I didn’t know 99.99% of all the things and festivities here.
wow – very much appreciative for your words and comments, thank you!
An informative, and enlightening post, thank you Mihran.
I appreciate for your kind words, it means a lot to me!
I love the video and the songs. Where did you find it? I was so busy with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Succoth that I just looked at all my links in my email. And I found your delightful video. I keep listening to it. It reminds me that I need to visit Israel. I haven’t been there since 1978.
wow – thank you for such kind words and detailed informative message, I appreciate it. Always a pleasure to read your comments and your great stories!