Well as the sun is setting on this the first Shabbat of the New Year, and the week of preparation and celebration of Rosh Hashanah comes to an end, I am thankful to Ha’Shem for His many blessings. It has been a long and very full week. Before I share a bit about that let me just give a brief overview of Rosh Hashanah, the first of the three Fall Feasts all of which occurs this month.
The fall is arguably the most important time of the year in Judaism. Three of Israel’s holiest days are celebrated then, and all in the space of 15 days. They are Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and 5 days after that by the week-long Feast of Tabernacles. This season is a time of reflection, contemplation, and putting things in order and getting right our relationship with God.
Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial but does not say what it is a memorial of. Many believe it is a memorial of God’s grace to Abraham when He substituted a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac (Gen. 22). It is also regarded by both Jews and Christians as a memorial of the creation of the world. This holiday is the New Year’s Day, on which the people rejoice in grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implore His blessing for the future year.
The Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which follows are the holiest days of the Jewish year. These ten days are called the Days of Awe or High Holy Days. Unlike other holy days, they do not celebrate a season or historical event. This season is a time for looking inward to spiritual growth.
The giving of gift baskets is practiced throughout Israel at this time of year. Although they can be filled with many different things, they commonly contain sweet things; candy, apples, honey, and pomegranate. This past week we assembled and delivered 280 such baskets for the families we help each week, as well as those who have been injured by the kassam rockets. I’ve posted some pictures below.
In other news; a total of 6 kassam rockets were launched this past week, 4 since the start of Rosh Hashanah. Thankfully there were no injuries; however one did cause damage to some school buildings just thirty minutes before the start of school. On Tuesday morning we were awoken by the sound of the “seva adom”. The sound of the impact was very loud as it hit with a greater force than usually. We learned later that day that it hit about a ¼ mi. away. The increase in attacks is a common occurrence as the holiest days are celebrated here, but the increase is also meant to coincide with the peace talks.
"You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day.” Psalms 91.5
On the lighter side, the Feast of Tabernacles is just around the corner. This is when temporary dwellings are built all over Israel. This holiday reminds us not to hold too tightly to material things of this world. When the Israelites were wanderers in the desert, they all lived in tents–rich and poor alike. We must remember that this life is only temporary, and that we are citizens of a heavenly home. Anyway the goal is to help build a sukkot this year, and perhaps even sleep in it. Shalom.