A Summarization of Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah Traditions

POSTED 28 JUNE, 2017

Yom Teruah or Rosh HaShanah is the first of the Fall appointed times, and it begins a very serious season of personal reflection and repentance for the individual, leading up to Yom Kippur. It occurs on the first of Tishri on the Hebrew calendar, and along with Yom Kippur, constitutes one of the most sacred times for the Jewish community. The instruction for this day appears twice in the Torah, in Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6:

“Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD”’” (Leviticus 23:23-25).

“Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets. You shall offer a burnt offering as a soothing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, and seven male lambs one year old without defect; also their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs. Offer one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you, besides the burnt offering of the new moon and its grain offering, and the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings, according to their ordinance, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD” (Numbers 29:1-6).

There is a great deal of significance attached to this day in Jewish theology, as it is most often emphasized as a time when God looks down from Heaven and reconsiders where He stands with people. It is a time where we are to rejoice and celebrate, remembering His goodness to us, but also begin a sober examination of our humanity, and consider faults and sins that must be rectified. Deuteronomy 11:12 explains, “the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year,” and this has been interpreted as meaning that at this time of year, when crops are gathered and the final harvest begins to come in, that the Lord considers where He stands with the people. The Talmud explains the severity of this concept in Jewish thought:

“Said R. Kruspedai said R. Yohanan, ‘Three books are opened [by God] on the New Year: one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for middling [people]. The thoroughly righteous immediately are inscribed and sealed for [continued] life. The thoroughly wicked immediately are inscribed and sealed for death. Middling [people] are left hanging from New Year until the Day of Atonement. If they [are found to have] merit, they are inscribed for life. If they [are found] not [to have] merit, they are inscribed for death’” (b.Rosh HaShanah 16b).

Of course, how God exactly considers or reckons our relationship to Him as human beings is something that we cannot fully know. What thoughts like this should convey to us, though, is that we are very mortal, we need to be in awe of God’s holiness, and as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). He further says, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

The need for us to reflect on ourselves, and maintain an active and vibrant relationship with God, is a key theme of the teachings of Yeshua and the Apostles. While this is to be happening every day of the year through prayer, meditation, and study of the Bible—this is a particular season where we have the opportunity to overhaul where we might stand with our Heavenly Father and with one another. Each year at this time religious Jews are forced to consider where they stand with the Almighty. Even though as Believers we have experienced the salvation available in Yeshua, we still commit sin and we still need a yearly reexamination of where we are in our spiritual walk. This reexamination begins on Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah. We get to improve where we are with Him, and remember that He is the One who will provide for us in the coming year.

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reproduced from the Messianic Fall Holiday Helper

The Fall holiday season of Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot—also including Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah—is a very special, sacred time of year for God’s people. It is considered to be the most holy time of year in Judaism. As such, this season can teach us all important things about the great value of corporate repentance of sin, and an annual inspection of our individual spiritual maturity. We can learn lessons about the Lord’s ongoing plan of salvation history, especially the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and the future establishment of His Millennial Kingdom!

The Messianic Fall Holiday Helper is a valuable compilation of resources designed to assist you, your family, and your Messianic fellowship for this season. We have included a selection of articles summarizing the role of mainline Jewish tradition, and reflective articles that focus on day-to-day observances of the Ten Days of Awe and the eight days of Tabernacles. Messages from customary books of the Tanach (Old Testament) like Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes, which are often studied and discussed during the Fall high holidays, have been offered. A few FAQs on the Fall high holidays have also been provided. Finally, some significant liturgy derived from Conservative Jewish sources—including a template for both a Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur morning service—is available.

If you have ever wondered what role the Fall high holidays should play in the life of a Believer, then the Messianic Fall Holiday Helper is definitely something for you. You will be blessed by what you can learn during these convocations!

308 pages