The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?

By Rabbi Jonny Roodyn

Rosh Hashanah is possibly the most complex day in the Jewish calendar.

More than just the start of a new calendar year, it is a day of judgement, remembrance, prayer and celebration all rolled into one.

The Hebrew word for year, shana, is related to words that mean repeat, learn and change. Every year we repeat the annual cycle, we enhance our appreciation of it through learning more and through this we change and develop as people.

In order to fully appreciate Rosh Hashanah we need to understand what we are commemorating. Contrary to popular belief, Rosh Hashanah does not mark the creation of the world, rather it is the anniversary of the creation of man on the sixth day of creation.

On that very first Rosh Hashanah, Adam was created, placed in the garden of Eden and allocated all the resources that he would need to fulfil his role in bringing the world to perfection.

Our Rosh Hashana is not a mere commemoration of these events, rather we experience them anew each year. Just as G-d created man, so too He creates us and allocates resources according to the role we will play in bringing the world to its perfected state.

Although on Rosh Hashana we ask G-d to invest in us for another year, to bless us with good health and prosperity, this is not the main theme of the prayers. Rather we focus on the purpose of creation, the Messianic era and ask G-d to invest in us on the basis of the role that we will play in making that dream become a reality.

 

- May 15th 2012

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