The first day of Tishri or Rosh Hashanah, which means "head of the year," began at sunset on Sep. 4, 2013 and marked the beginning of the “civil” new year. The celebration can be traced back to the so-called “Feast of Trumpets.” While one of three decidedly Jewish holy days, Rosh Hashanah has distinctive features with implications for Christians as well.
According to cbn.com, Rosh Hashanah, also known as Yom ha-Din (Day of Judgment), begins the "Ten Days of Awe" (Yomin Noraim), the "Ten Days of Turning or Repentance" or "the High Holy Days" which conclude with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Messianic Jewish Bible teacher, Neil Cohen, describes the "Days of Awe" as a time of personal evaluation, "The 10 days of Awe are a reflection of the relationship with God and with family."
During this period, it is customary for Jews to greet one another with the phrase, "L'Shanah Tovah Tikateyvu" meaning "May you be inscribed in the Book of Life."
Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, speaks of “The Book of Life” where anyone whose name is not found in the book will be thrown into the lake of fire, while those who are found in the book will enter the New Jerusalem.
During the 10-day period, a family meal is celebrated which includes honey cake, wine, and apples dipped in honey. Greetings are exchanged along with good wishes for a “sweet and happy year.” Such was the case from a somewhat unlikely source, Hasan Rouhani, newly elected president of Iran, who tweeted the following greeting as the new year began:
Rosh Hashanah is both a festive and solemn celebration, in that repentance (teshuvah) and forgiveness are associated with the feast day, which culminates with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
For Christians, the New Testament links repentance with salvation, in that the Book of Romans and elsewhere, Paul connects repentance with the atonement of Christ, who sacrificed his life on behalf of humanity.
Another parallel feature of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teru’ah is the blowing of the trumpet or shofar, prophetic symbol of the return of Christ or the rapture of the church. Cbn.com also notes that the Talmud states that on Rosh Hashanah the dead will be raised, corresponding to the trumpet call mentioned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians.
Yet another closely related feature of Rosh Hashanah is “Binding Isaac,” which points to the Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son upon the altar at Mount Moriah, where Abraham prophetically proclaims, "God will provide for himself the lamb."
This account from Genesis 22 is read on the second day of the celebration and reveals that just as Abraham raised his knife above his son, the Angel of the LORD intervened, providing a “ram in the thicket” as a substitute. According to Jewish tradition, God told Abraham that the ram's horn (shofar) should be blown on Rosh Hashanah to remind the people of the substitutionary sacrifice provided by the Lord Himself to serve as a prophetic foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
Rosh Hashanah and the other feasts celebrated in the month of Tishri provide an opportunity to explore some of the Jewish roots connected to Christianity through a number of distinctive features that correspond in each religion.
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Rabbi Brad Hirschfield adds a commentary: Rosh Shashanah: Celebrating the birth of the world.