Rosh Hashanah 2014: A Time to Renew

Rosh Hashanah 2014Have you ever wanted a chance for a “do over” in your life? The opportunity to forget something that you’ve done, that maybe you aren’t proud of, and move on ad begin fresh?

Sounds great, right? Well, if you practice the Jewish faith, that’s exactly what you get to do each year during Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah, one of the Jewish High Holidays, is observed in the fall. It can be compared to a New Years celebration, where people focus on leaving behind what is bad and focus on making a fresh start.

Out With the Old

To symbolize the new, fresh start, those observing Rosh Hashanah will walk to flowing bodies of water and empty their pockets into the water. (Often, pockets are filled first with pieces of bread.)

This act of casting off ones sins is called “Tashlikh.” It’s not all that dissimilar to traditions of other faiths and cultures that burn notes inscribed with transgressions, or even hopes, for the New Year.

Whether it’s bread tossed in water, or paper scorched by fire, the meaning is the same. It’s a conscious choice to forget the past, and begin fresh by choosing a righteous path.

The Book of Life

Rush Hashanah is also considered a day of judgment. After contemplating past sins, practicing Jews ask for forgiveness from God. Those who repent are believed to have their names inscribed in the Book of Life.

Jews work to have their name written in the Book of Life in three ways; through prayer, repentance and through acts of charity.

Having your name inscribed in the Book of Life is a central theme, both in the Jewish religion, and on the High Holiday of Rush Hashanah. It’s common to hear the greeting “may you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life” spoken on this day.

A Sweeter Year

Beyond casting off the past year, Jews also welcome in the next. One way they prepare for the new year is by eating apples dipped in honey. This signifies the hope of a “sweet” year to come.

But apples aren’t the only food dipped in honey. During the traditional Rush Hashanah meal a loaf of challah bread is also dipped in honey. The rest of the food prepared for a traditional Rush Hashanah meal differs by family and, sometimes by Jewish community.

What doesn’t differ is the importance of this meal. The festive meal, called Seudat Yom Tov, is usually attended by extended family.

The Old and the New

The general tenants of Rush Hashanah, forgiveness of past sins and preparing for a better tomorrow, are a great way to start any new year. Whether that happens to the be the Jewish New Year of Rush, the January 1st New Year, or just starting off a new week with a new attitude.

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