Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shana Tova!

On eve of Sept 28th of September Jews all over the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year.  This will be year 5772!  You might ask yourself, where is that in the Scriptures?  Actually, the Scriptures talk about this day as Yom Teruah or in English, Day of the sounding of the Trumpet.  (Leviticus 23:23-25)

So how did this day turn into Rosh Hashanah or Head of the Year?  You might know that the first month is the month of Nissan and this is the month that Passover is celebrated.  So how did the month of Tishrei, the 7th month, end up as the New Year?  As you will see this time of the year became the Spiritual New Year for Israel.

First, in Leviticus we are commanded to Blow the Shofar and this is done because we are called to regather for the 10 Days of Awe and Repentance.  These are the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We are called to reflect deeply on our relationship with God and each other.

In order to understand the significance of these 10 days we must go back to the month previous, Elul.  Jewish tradition teaches that on the first day of the month of Elul Moses ascended Mount Sinai in order to receive the second set of Tablets of the Law and that he descended on Yom Kippur about 40 days later.  So the month of Elul plus the 10 days to Yom Kippur are about 40 days.  It was during this time that Moses spent time in G-d's presence receiving God's revelation and a time spent in preparation to share this with all of Israel.  I just bet this must have been a humbling experience to say the least!

For us Catholics and Christians of all kinds, this sounds very familiar.  In our Liturgical calendar we have a time called Lent. Our time of Lent is the fulfillment of the month of Elul that leads to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  And much like the time in the Jewish calendar this is also a time of deep introspection and repentance as we prepare for fulfillment of Passover or Easter and the resurrection. 

So the blowing of the Shofar is the call to repentance and the Spiritual New Year.  We are also very hopeful as we seek G-d's ultimate forgiveness on Yom Kippur.  As Catholics we rejoice that G-d sent his Son as our Kippur (Atonement).  

As we celebrate this special time of year in our Havurah we are to remember that God provided us the final atonement through Jesus the Messiah.  We are to ask G-d that He would reveal to His chosen people the mysterious truth that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and that we can have forgiveness for all our sins once and for all through His shed blood. 

This is a time when many of our Jewish brothers and sisters are seeking G-d.  Their hearts are open to the truth and it is our responsibility to share the truth in love with whomever G-d puts in our path, for we are not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Rom 1:16) 

We will celebrate with apples and honey, honey cake, and all things sweet.  We will blow the shofar in anticipation of the Final Trumpet blast when Jesus returns in the final resurrection.  (1 Thes 4:16-18)

If you know any Jews or Hebrew Catholics it is customary to send them a Rosh Hashanah card to wish them a sweet and happy New Year.  Even if they might not be ready to hear or accept the Jewish Messiah we can use this time to build bridges of trust and cooperation between our communities.  Remember G-d will bless those who bless his people.  (Gen 12:3)

Shana Tova!  Happy New Year!  May G-d fill you with His Shalom!  Miriam Mystical Rose pray for the salvation of ALL Israel.

Shalom in Yeshua and Miriam,
Gershon ben Sha'ul

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