For an overview of God’s Appointed Times, see An Appointment with God—God’s Appointed Times. This post will introduce you to Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah.
Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah
Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah is the first of the fall appointments. This year, it was celebrated starting at sundown on Fri, Sept. 18, 2020, through sundown Sept 19, which corresponds to the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri as designated in Lev. 23:24 and Num. 29:1-2. (The Biblical day runs from sundown to sundown, not midnight to midnight.)
Yom Teruah (pronounced yohm te-ROO-ah) means “the day of sounding” as it is designated in Leviticus or “Festival of Trumpets.” Rosh HaShanah (pronounced rohsh hash-shah-NAH) means “head of the year.” Huh, head of the year should be in the 1st month, not the 7th, shouldn’t it? That would be logical. However, the rabbis of old gave such significance to this special Shabbat (Sabbath – all God’s appointed times are Shabbats) that they eventually considered it the start of the spiritual new year. In fact, the Hebrew calendar year number changes on Rosh Hashanah, not on the 1st day of the 1st month, Nissan, which occurs in the spring. In addition, Yom Teruah occurs at the end of the harvest period that ends in the fall, which the Torah calls tzeit ha’shanah, or the “end of the year” (Ex 23:16). This suggests the start of a coming new year. So, that is how it came to be called Rosh Hashanah.
The purpose of Yom Teruah is summed up in the words “regathering and repentance.” It is a day to take stock of our spiritual condition and make any necessary changes to ensure that our lives will be pleasing to God in the coming year. It is considered so important that the 40 days starting with the first of the previous month (Elul) through Yom Kippur on the 10th of Tishri is considered a time of spiritual preparation. This is based on a belief by the Rabbis that on the first of Elul, Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the second set of the Tablets of the Law and that he descended on Yom Kippur.
In Jewish tradition, the Shofar (ram’s horn) is blown calling all to return to the Lord in repentance. The ten days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur are called the Ten Days of Awe or Ten Days of Repentance. This is a period of intense prayer, self-examination, and repentance, which culminates on the fast day of Yom Kippur. Of course, as followers of Yeshua, we know that we do not, in fact cannot, earn God’s forgiveness. He freely provides salvation and forgiveness if we repent (Eph. 2:8-9). But, as we’ll see when we discuss Yom Kippur, our sins always require payment, but Yeshua paid the debt for us. However, Yom Teruah should still remind us of the need to repent of our sins—though we have been forgiven, we are still to be aware of the sins we commit and repent of them. Of course, we don’t need to wait until Yom Teruah to do so. We should repent of sin as soon as we become aware of it. But, Yom Teruah is a good time for believers to take an accounting of their lives and, if needed, renew their relationship with their Lord and Savior, the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua.
The blowing of the shofar reminds us of an incident in Gen 22. At God’s instruction, Abraham took his grown son to be sacrificed. God provided a ram caught in a thicket by its horns (shofars, as it were) as a substitution—an indication of the future substitution of Yeshua, the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36).
Yom Teruah is a time of celebration. The special customs observed on Rosh HaShanah include: the sounding of the shofar (the blowing of the ram’s horn is prophetic of the return of Yeshua), using round challah (symbolizes the completeness of the year), eating apples and honey and other sweet foods to initiate the start of a sweet new year, and observing the service of Tashlich.
Tashlich is a relatively recent addition to Jewish practice. While there is evidence of similar practices as early as the 1st century CE, the form we see today probably started around the 16th century. The word derives from Micah 7:18-20 and means to “cast away” or “cast off.” It involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or other food into a body of flowing water. Just as the water carries away the bits of bread, so too, our sins are symbolically carried away. For believers, the living water represents Yeshua who has already cast our sins away. However, it is an opportunity for believers to acknowledge that He has done so in a symbolic manner. I have performed this “exercise” and found it to be very spiritually meaningful as a visible demonstration of Yeshua carrying my sins away.
Finally, all of the biblical Holy Days have prophetic fulfillment. While the historical emphasis of Yom Teruah is repentance, the prophetic looks to the future day when the Messiah will gather His flock into the Messianic Kingdom. Rosh Hashanah is a perfect picture of the regathering of believers and the Jewish believing remnant by Yeshua at His second coming. (Refer to Isa. 27:12-13; Matt. 24:31; Eph. 5:14; 1 Thes. 4:16-18; Titus 2:13)
Stay tuned for the next post in this series, An Appointment with God—Yom Kippur. May I suggest subscribing to these posts or following my WordPress page to insure that you do not miss it and other posts? To either follow the page or subscribe to receive an email when they are posted, go to www.WJBsTurn.WordPress.com. Thank you, and…
Until the next time…“May the LORD bless and protect you…May He give you Shalom.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
- Barney Kasdan, “Rosh HaShanah” God’s Appointed Times, Lederer Books, 1993
- The Chosen People Ministries, “Appointed Times of the Lord” The Chosen People Vol XXVI, Issue 8, September 2020
- Shani Sorko-Ram Ferguson, “The Fun Commandments,” Moaz Israel Report, September 2020
- Tashlich: jewishhomela.com/2014/09/19/the-origins-of-tashlich