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Pasco rabbi shares meaning of Jewish holiday

Published Sep. 23

“Our Father, our King, inscribe us in the Book of Good Life,” excerpt from the Rosh Hashanah prayer book

Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the universe. It is celebrated as the time when the Jewish calendar changes from one year to the next. Unlike the secular new year, it is not a nostalgic time of remembrance, but a time of renewal and looking forward to the future.

This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 29.

The literal translation of Rosh Hashanah is “head of the year.” Our sages teach us that just as the head controls the body, our actions on Rosh Hashanah have a tremendous impact on the coming year — for ourselves, our families and all of humanity.

It is significant that the celebration of the New Year is not on the first day of creation, but on the sixth day, when man was created. The other living things that make up our universe — the inanimate, vegetation and other living creatures — preceded the creation of man. Nevertheless, as the Torah relates in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, it is on the anniversary of man’s creation that we celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

This brings into focus the significance that the human being is the purpose of creation, having been created in the image of God.

God has given humans the responsibility and privilege to use all of our talents, gifts, faith and love to elevate the mundane aspects of our world and transform this world into a Godly oasis, a place of peace, kindness and holiness.

On Rosh Hashanah, we blow the shofar. It is one of the 613 commandments Jews were given as part of their responsibilities regarding this transformation. By coming to synagogue to hear the shofar, you are bringing immense Godly and spiritual energy into our mundane world. For nations of the world, God provided the seven Noahide laws. Anyone interested in learning about the Noahide laws can go to Chabad.org or noahide.org.

Rosh Hashanah is part of an integrated series of holy days that begin with Rosh Hashanah, go through the “10 days of repentance” that lead up to Yom Kippur and end with the joyous celebration of Sukkot. We begin this time by declaring, or crowning, God as our King and accepting the yoke of heaven upon ourselves.

It is a time for reflection and introspection. It also is a time to consider how we move forward in our service of God and performance of mitzvot (the commandments) to transform ourselves into Godly beings and the world into a Godly place.

A wonderful way to commit to this transformation is to insist that a moment of silence be brought back into our public school systems, giving our children a moment to start their days in quiet reflection. As their lives become increasingly overwhelming, a moment of silence would be beneficial to their physical and spiritual well-being.

Join us at Chabad Jewish Center this Rosh Hashanah as we usher in the new year. For more information, visit our website at ChabadWP.com or call 727-376-3366.

Rabbi Yossi Eber, Chabad Jewish Center of West Pasco

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