Rosh Ha Shanah

Rosh ha-Shanah (Hebrew, New Year) is the Jewish New Year, Rosh ha-Shanah, which is celebrated on 1 Tishri, and 2 in the diaspora. According to R. Eliezer, the world was created in the month of Tishri (RH 27a), and Rosh ha-Shanah is the day on which all humanity was judged (RH 1. 2).

The four names of the festival in Jewish tradition reflect the various themes of the day: Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Teru’ah (Day of Blowing the Horn), Yom ha-Din (Day of Judgment), Yom ha-Zikkaron (Day of Remembrance).

According to tradition, the completely wicked are inscribed in the Book of the Dead on Rosh ha-Shanah, the completely virtuous in the Book of Life, while for the in betweens judgment is suspended until Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). A variety of reasons are given for the blowing of the shofar, which is to be blown in a particular way.

The Maimonides states that its purpose is to say, «Awake from your slumbers, you who have fallen asleep, and reflect on your deeds» (Yad. Teshvnah 3. 4).

During the festival, the Ashkenazim greet each other with the phrase, «May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year,» and it is customary to eat something sweet as a token of a sweet year ahead. On the first afternoon, the Tashlikh ceremony is often performed, although the Talmud makes no reference to this.

Rosh ha-Shanah also is a tractate of the Talmud. This tractate deals with the laws and customs of the various New Years in the Jewish Calendar. A.G.H.


Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 824