Rosh Hashanah Videos
When is Rosh Hashanah 2024?
Rosh Hashanah upcoming dates: October 2 to October 4, 2024
Finding Forgiveness On Yom Kippur Through The 13 Attributes Of Mercy
Rabbi David Fohrman - 33 min video
The High Holidays should be a time of introspection, but it often feels like we're so overwhelmed by our own guilt, by the idea of coming to terms with ourselves, that we don't know where to start.
Yamim Noraim And The Difference Between Awe And Fear
Rabbi David Fohrman - 1 hour, 18 min video
Many of us associate the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) with guilt and fear. But is “awe” the same thing as “fear”? Answering this question may be key to breaking free of the painful emotions that often accompany these days and experiencing them in a brand new, uplifting way.
Spiritual Preparation For Rosh Hashanah
Immanuel Shalev - 3 min video - Part 1 of 10
A Guide For Rosh Hashanah With just 5 minutes a day, you'll be ready to show up on Rosh Hashanah feeling prepared. We’ll talk about prayer, how to understand davening, why we blow the shofar, how to leave behind all the guilt of Rosh Hashanah, and why this holiday is absolutely worth celebrating.
Why Did God Ask Abraham To Sacrifice His Son?
Rabbi David Fohrman - 48 min video - Part 1 of 7
On Rosh Hashanah, we read about the Akeidah, when Abraham was asked to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice. But how are we supposed to make sense of this story that seems to pit obedience to God against our most basic sense of morality?
Commentary On Unetaneh Tokef - The High Holiday’s Scariest Prayer
Rabbi David Fohrman - 1 hour, 11 min video
At the center of the High Holidays' prayer service is the passage "Unetaneh Tokef." The powerful and dramatic prayer borrows imagery from the story of Elijah. A closer look at this biblical story sheds light on God's relationship of justice and mercy with His people, and helps us understand this prayer in a deeper way.
Repentance: The Guiding Voice Of Our Moral Conscience
Rabbi David Fohrman - 1 hour, 34 min video
How can we welcome a time of year that causes us so much angst, guilt, and shame?
The Meaning Of Hannah’s Prayer
Rabbi David Fohrman - 8 min video - Part 1 of 4
The High Holidays are a time for deep introspection and prayer. Yet, how can we stand before God and really speak to Him? The answers on how best to commune with God can be found in an interesting place: Hannah’s prayers in the book of Samuel.
Is It Kosher To Argue With God?
Rabbi David Fohrman - 36 min video - Part 1 of 10
In Emor, we read about the Mekalel (the "Blasphemer"), the man who is punished for cursing God. Cursing God doesn't sound like a very religious thing to do, but it raises the question: Is it ever OK to speak against God? What about arguing with God? Find out in this audio series.
Preparing for Rosh Hashanah
A printable guide to aid our video series "How To Prepare For Rosh Hashanah."
High Holiday Reader
Enhance your Yomim Noraim with our new High Holiday Reader.
What Is Rosh Hashanah?
About Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah, which translates literally to “head of the year,” is the Jewish New Year. It is the new year for people, animals, and for legal contracts. According to commentators of the Talmud, Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of man (Tractate Rosh Hashanah).
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as a two-day holiday, beginning on the first day of the month of Tishrei. According to the Torah, however, Rosh Hashanah is a one-day celebration.
Since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, it became more difficult to determine the date of Rosh Hashanah in the same way it had been determined prior, so a second day was added to Rosh Hashanah to account for the unclarity. The two days of Rosh Hashanah are referred to as a Yoma Arichtah, one long day.
The Talmud teaches us that three books are opened on Rosh Hashanah, where the fate of the righteous, the wicked, and the intermediate individuals are recorded.
The Bible refers to this holiday as Zichron Teruah and Yom Teruah, “day of blowing the horn” (Leviticus 23:24, Numbers 29:1). In Jewish prayer books, Rosh Hashanah is also called Yom HaZikaron, “a day of remembrance.” The Mishnah refers to Rosh Hashanah as the day of judgment.
The prayers for Rosh Hashanah are broken up into three parts: Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofrot. The overarching theme of the prayers and of the holiday is the coronation of God as King of the universe.
Since Hebrew days begin at sundown, the beginning of Rosh Hashanah is at sundown at the end of 29 Elul, going into 1 Tishrei.
Erev Rosh Hashanah
Before Rosh Hashanah we should ask forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged. Similarly, we should forgive anyone who might have wronged us. Many have the custom to go to a Mikveh to cleanse themselves in preparation. Some have the custom of visiting cemeteries to appeal to God to hear our prayers in the merit of those more righteous.
We also perform Hatarat Nedarim, annulment of vows, so we can go into the new year with a clean slate.
Rosh Hashanah Traditions
Rosh Hashanah Greeting And Wishes
On Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to greet one another with the blessing in hebrew: L'shanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
A special prayer said near a body of water, symbolically casting our sins into the sea.
Rosh Hashanah & Shofar Blowing
There is a commandment for all to hear the shofar blasts from a horn, customarily a ram’s horn, on Rosh Hashanah. Rabbi Saadiah Gaon offers 10 reasons for this commandment:
- God completed Creation on Rosh Hashanah, establishing His sovereignty over the Universe. We blow the shofar as a renewal of God's renewal God’s coronation as King.
- Since Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentance, we blow the shofar so that its cries will awaken us to repent.
- The shofar was blown at Mt. Sinai when the Torah was received.
- The blasts of the Shofar are compared to the exhortations of the Prophets; on Rosh Hashanah we are reminded of the importance of their words.
- The broken blasts, shevarim, remind us of the destroyed Temple.
- Abraham displayed incredible zeal to do the will of God, even when it meant sacrificing his son, Isaac. In the end, a ram was sacrificed in his stead. The ram’s horn reminds us of Abraham’s readiness to perform God’s will.
- The powerful sounds of the shofar stir our hearts with feelings of awe towards God.
- The intense blasts help us recognize the solemnity of the day.
- The ingathering of Jews into the Land of Israel during Messianic times will be heralded by the blasts of the shofar.
- The resurrection of the dead in Messianic times will also be heralded by the shofar sounds.
Rosh Hashanah Foods & Symbolism
- Round Challah: During all of the High Holidays we eat round challah, symbolizing fullness and completion. The challah is dipped into honey.
- Honey: On Rosh Hashanah, Challah is dipped into honey and we also dip apples into honey, symbolically praying for a “sweet” new year.
- Pomegranates: Pomegranates are one of the Seven Species of Israel. It is traditionally used as the new fruit for the Shehechiyanu blessing. The pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds, corresponding to the 613 mitzvoth.
- Carrots: The Hebrew word for carrot, gezer, sounds like the Hebrew word for decree, g’zar. We eat carrots on Rosh Hashanah to express our desire that God strike any negative decrees against us.
- Beets: The Hebrew word for beets is similar to the word for “remove.” Eating beets expresses our hope that God will remove our enemies.
- Fish Head or Sheep’s Head: We eat the head of an animal so that “we will be as the head and not as the tail.”
Rosh Hashanah Meaning
What is the meaning and purpose of Rosh Hashanah? Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of a new year, a new start. The Talmud states that on Rosh Hashanah, God judges our deeds from the past year, and records our future fates for the coming year. Rosh Hashanah also starts the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate with Yom Kippur.
The holiday of Rosh Hashanah bears many titles. In the Torah, it is referred to as “Yom Teruah,” a day of shofar blasts. In Rabbinic sources, it is referred to as “Yom haDin,” the day of judgement; “Yom haZikaron,” the day of remembrance; and of course, “Rosh Hashanah” – the beginning of the year. In line with these characterizations, Rosh Hashanah is generally celebrated with a sense of awe and humility, and the majority of the holiday is spent in intense prayer.
Rosh Hashanah Services, U'Netaneh Tokef
The prayer services include the sections Malchuyot, Zichronot and Shofarot, which discuss God’s kingship, God’s remembrance of His creations, and the symbolism of the Shofar, respectively. They also include many passages that discuss God’s judgement, including the sobering U’Netaneh Tokef. The shofar is also blown one hundred times during the prayer service.
Rosh Hashanah can seem overwhelming at first. It deals with very lofty and heavy themes, themes that many of us struggle to connect with. Aleph Beta goes in search of how we can connect to Rosh Hashanah, pursue meaning, and find relevance in a modern context.