Time is not a train of cars hitched one to another.
A year is not dragged along by the year preceding. The present is not hitched tightly to the past. The future is not enslaved to the present.
Rather, every year arrives fresh from its Creator, a year that never was before and could never have been known before its arrival.
That is why we call Rosh Hashanah “the birth of the world” in our prayers. The past has returned to its place, never to return. With the blowing of the shofar, the entirety of Creation is renewed.
From this point on, even the past exists only by virtue of the present.
There is a great mystery in the drama of Rosh Hashanah:
The mystery of a Creator asking His creations to participate in the rebirth of their own world.
Even of their own selves.
Header: Hasidic Jews performing tashlikh on Rosh Hashanah, painting by Aleksander Gierymski, 1884
Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה), literally meaning “head [of] the year”, is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), literally “day of shouting or blasting”. It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים Yamim Nora’im. “Days of Awe”) specified by Leviticus 23:23–32 that occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration that begins on the first day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year.
In contrast to the ecclesiastical year, where the first month Nisan, the Passover month, marks Israel’s exodus from Egypt, Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the civil year, according to the teachings of Judaism, and is the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Hebrew Bible, and the inauguration of humanity’s role in G-d’s world.
Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a cleaned-out ram’s horn), as prescribed in the Torah, following the prescription of the Hebrew Bible to “raise a noise” on Yom Teruah. Its rabbinical customs include attending synagogue services and reciting special liturgy about teshuva, as well as enjoying festive meals. Eating symbolic foods is now a tradition, such as apples dipped in honey, hoping to evoke a sweet new year.