Rosh Hashanah is oh so serious. It’s arguably, the most dramatic time within Jewish tradition. It’s pretty much the time when your fate for the year (or the rest of your life) is determined. Indeed its a time for reflection, introspection, prayer, and family. But despite the melodrama, we can still have fun with some of its serious concepts! Here is a lighter perspective of what Rosh Hashanah means.
Rosh Hashanah is a really cool holiday if you think about it. This is the time we celebrate the birthday of creation and humankind. It’s like the biggest birthday bash ever existed with 14 million people worldwide (i.e., the Jewish global demographics; to those who didn’t get it) celebrating! It’s about the commencement of anything and everything that existed… EVER! Try to wrap your head around THAT.
Promise, this isn’t a Jewish moma’s conspiracy. Rosh Hashanah is the day we gotta dedicate to look into our transgressions and make them right. This day is meant to figure out what our “guilt” is about: Who did we hurt? What should we fix? How can we better ourselves and our relationships with our loved ones? Here’s the shocker, this day is actually dedicated to reminding your narcissistic self that life doesn’t revolve around you. It’s awfully humbling.
Think about it! Jews are stress eaters. Jewish holidays tend to commemorate how Jews survived hurdles and avoided eminent destruction. I’m pretty sure these qualify as stressful situations. So how do we celebrate, well, not dying? We eat! Many many meals. But this time, however, in Rosh Hashanah, it’s G-d’s turn to either kill us or keep us alive. This is the time when G-d decides in which ‘book’ your soul will be inscribed: life or death. So it’s basically your job to pray, repent, and reflect so your name isn’t called next at the spiritual gallows of existence. Alternatively, you can also reflect, repent, and pray to better your life, or die trying. At least we know why we have honey with every meal this holiday. Obviously honey makes everything so much less daunting.
One of the greatest values of Judaism is transcending anything in life for a higher purpose. So the bar of expectations is raised when food is present. Meaning, an apple is never really just an apple! It has a higher meaning that’s customary we acknowledge. So during the Rosh Hashanah seder we bless each food based on the significance of its name in Hebrew. The name of each food has a meaning of what we wish for ourselves this new year. Here are some examples with a fun twist:
Date- Tamar, in Hebrew, is the word that’s related to “end”. We hope our enemies and wrongdoers come to an end this year. But we would also hope we enjoy more dates this year (married or single). Cliche as it may be, it never gets old.
Pomegranates– We wish our year will be filled with good deeds like the seeds of a pomegranate. Or we can also wish to have as many children as the seeds of a pomegranate. It’s not like there are enough Jews in the world anyway.
Apples dipped in honey– We want to have a sweet new year like a caramelized apple (just without the stick 😉 )
Head of a fish or a ram – We bless that this year we’ll merit to be ahead in life and not behind like your bu… like a tail.
Beets – Its Hebrew word relates to the word remove. We wish those who want to harm us to be removed away. Michael Jackson said it well: “so beat it”.
We blow the Shofar for many reasons. One of them is because the shofar’s cry is a reminder that our life won’t last forever. We have a higher meaning with the responsibility to live up to our highest purpose. What you will do to achieve that purpose is completely up to you. The amazing part is that spending Rosh Hashanah with your loved ones is also a reminder that you’re not alone. So raise your glass up for a huge L’Chaim and for a Shana Tova uMetuka!