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September 19, 2014 7:31 am

Great Quotes on the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Rosh Hashanah food. Photo: Deror Avi.

Sundown on Wednesday, September 24, marks Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and millions of Jews around the world will congregate for the beginning of the High Holy Days. The day is a holiday of hope for a sweet New Year. It is a special day when our destiny will be ordained, and it will determine God’s blessings for the year.

So many Jews worldwide celebrate in so many different ways. I enjoy the family time, and the reflection on family, faith, and so much else. As one who loves great quotes, I wanted to share some quotations on the meaning of Rosh Hashanah:

  • “The key to understanding the themes of Rosh Hashanah is the date. The Day of Judgment for the world was not chosen arbitrarily, but is specifically on this date — not because it is the first day of the year, but because it is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve.” – South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Dr. Warren Goldstein
  • “Rosh Hashanah is about relationships. Whether between individuals and the God in whom they believe, communities and the traditions which define them, or simply between individuals, whether any God or tradition is part of their lives, it’s all about sustaining relationships which sustain us and help us do the same for others.” – Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
  • “For many Jews, Rosh Hashanah and teshuvah are annual reminders of the possibility to renew relationships with God and with each other.” – Rebecca Missel
  • “On Rosh Hashanah all human beings pass before Him as troops, as it is said, ‘the Lord looks down from heaven, He sees all mankind. From His dwelling place He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, who discerns all their doings.'” – Rabbi Dr. Reuven Hammer
  • “The blessing over the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah refers to the mitzvah as “hearing the voice of the Shofar,” but since that voice speaks without words, the message that is heard depends a great deal on who is doing the listening.” – Douglas Aronin
  • “Everyone is judged on Rosh Hashanah and their judgment sealed on Yom Kippur with respect to their status in this world. But the difference between the judgment of the righteous, wicked, and intermediate person is in regards to their status in the World to come.” – Shema Yisrael
  • “What is the essential aspect of Rosh Hashanah? The coronation of G d as King. Thus our Sages quote G d as asking: ‘Say before Me… verses reflecting My Kingship to make Me King over you.'” – Eli Touger
  • “On Rosh Hashanah, everything we do is imbued with extreme significance.  We stand in judgment before the Heavenly Court while each of our actions, words, and thoughts are scrutinized.” – Rabbi Moshe Schuchman
  • “Rosh Hashanah is the Yom HaDin, the day of Judgment. The scales are poised. Each person is judged according to his deeds (or lack of them).” – Slonimer Rebbe Shlita
  • “It says in the Talmud that on Rosh Hashanah three books are opened before Him: the book of Tzadikkim, the book of Resha’im, and the book of Beinonim (intermediates).” – Reb Sholom Brodt
  • “On Rosh Hashanah we are aware that God is judging us. But God is truly judging us every moment of every day. It is only on Rosh Hashanah that we, as a people, pause to reflect on this phenomenon.” – Michael Mascolo
  • “At the beginning of the period of judgment – on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – all the world’s inhabitants pass in individual review before G-d. During the Festival of Sukkot, the entire world is judged concerning water, fruit, and produce.” – Eliyahu Kitov
  • “During Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people ask God for forgiveness for the things we’ve done wrong during the past year. We also remind ourselves not to repeat these mistakes in the coming year. In this way, Rosh Hashanah is an opportunity to improve ourselves. It’s a holiday that helps us to become better people.” – Tori Avey
  • “Rosh Hashanah is the Creation of the World. It is a time to recreate ourselves by recognizing our faults, repenting and asking forgiveness from others for our sins, all leading to atonement, granted by God for our actions.” – Marc Rubenstein
  • “Rosh Hashana is steeped in ritual. We eat the head of a sheep or fish as a symbol of leadership and ascendency. We dip our challah and apple in honey in the hope of a sweet year.” – Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann
  • “But the most important renewal of life is that which occurs on Rosh Hashanah. Because that is when all life of the previous year returns to its essential source and a new life, such as was never known before, emerges from the void to sustain existence for an entire year.” – Tzvi Freeman
  • “No single article can capture the paradox of Rosh Hashanah, much less explain it. To understand Rosh Hashanah, we need to experience it — spend those hours praying in shul, hear the shofar’s hundred notes, dip the apple in honey and eat the tzimmes.” – Yanki Tauber
  • “On one hand, we know that Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment. The scales are poised. Each person is judged according to his deeds (or lack of them).” – Binyomin Adilman
  • “Rosh Hashanah isn’t just about being new, it’s about a change.” – Max Levis

Wherever one may be, and however they may celebrate, I’m wishing all of the Jewish people a sweet and peaceful New Year.

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