Rosh Hashanah is known as:
The Jewish New Year or The Head of the Year. So it is a celebration of a New Year!
Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets) – The blowing of the Shofar is of precious significance as it is a call to attention, a cry of warfare and victory, and that the Shofar is a ram’s horn relates to Genesis 22:13 when Abraham took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son, foreshadowing of the greater sacrifice to come in the Messiah.
The Day of Remembrance – According to Jewish belief, Rosh Hashanah is the day when Adam was created. Creation reminds us of the absolute sovereignty of God, who created all things for His glory. We also remember God’s covenants, our purpose, our deeds.
The Day of Judgment – Yom Ha-Din, the day we stand in judgment before God. On Rosh Hashanah the religious Jewish belief is that this is the day/time period we are inscribed in the Book of Life (but for just one year…)
The first mention in the Bible of this holiday is in Leviticus 23:24-25 and what became Rosh Hashanah was an unnamed minor festival held on the first day of the seventh month, serving mainly as a precursor to the major harvest celebration of Sukkot two weeks later. Rosh Hashanah as we now know it come from the oral traditions compiled and organized in the extra biblical book, the Mishnah. By then the holiday was regularly celebrated over two days because of the uncertainty of predicting which day the sighting of the new moon, which signaled the start of the new month, would be announced by the Sanhedrin, the central Jewish religious court. Other scriptures regarding Rosh Hashanah are: Psalm 47, Numbers 29:1, Nehemiah 8:1-12.
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated by Jewish people worldwide through synagogue attendance and services. There are also several at home traditions which are deeply meaningful, beautiful, tasty, and fun, part of the way we here remain connected to our Jewish heritage with a richness and fullness that is joyous and precious. There may be other traditional foods and activities, but these are the ones known well here.
Yes, honey is a theme! The honey signifies hope for a sweet new year. Even deeper:
The Promised Land is described as a land flowing with milk and honey, a sign of all the good things from God to be found there (Exodus 3:6-8.) Honey is a symbol of good health or even deeper than that, the fullness of joy not contingent upon life circumstances and the eternal health/salvation for one who has placed his faith firmly in the promised will and power of God as it was for Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14:24-27. Honey is an honored gift (Genesis 43:11.)
Round Challah and Honey: Challah a traditional Jewish braided white bread. Most of the year it is braided into regular loaves. On Rosh Hashanah, it is round, recalling the cyclical nature of the year as well as being highly symbolic of a crown as God is the King.
Apples and Honey: Apples are references to being under God’s protection (Psalm 17:8, Zechariah 2:12 [2:8 OT], Proverbs 7:2)
Honey cake: For more sweetness for the new year, honey cake (or lekach) is another treat.
Taslich: From the Hebrew word meaning “to cast,” referring to casting our sins into a body of moving water (“He shall return and grant us compassion; He shall hide our iniquities, and You shall cast into the depths of the sea all their sins.” Micah 7:19) Whether at the ocean, the brook at the back of our property, a river, lake… graphically and symbolically taking small stones or pebbles and throwing them into the water is a reminder of the true depth and breadth of the holiday and the Book of Life.
Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the spring of living waters, to dig for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that do not hold water.”
Jeremiah 17:13 “The Lord who is the source of the hopes of Israel, all that forsake You shall be shamed, and they who turn away from me shall be marked out on the earth that they have forsaken the source of living waters, the Lord.”
Zechariah 13:1 “On that day, a spring shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for purification and for sprinkling.”
Psalm 51 “Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity, and purify me of my sin.”
Ezekiel 36:24-28 “For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean; from all your impurities and from all your abominations will I cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do [them].
God made it clear He would be forming a new covenant with a new heart and His spirit placed within us (Jeremiah 31:30-33 Tanakh [Jeremiah 31:31-34 OT], Jeremiah 32:37-40, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Ezekiel 16:58-63, Ezekiel 36:26-29, Ezekiel 37:21-26, Isaiah 55:3-8.)
John 4:14 “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 7:38: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
L’Shanah Tovah – For A Good Year! Shalom