The term Rosh Hashana means the head (rosh) of the year (hashana). We interrupt the regular flow of readings from the Torah on Saturdays to celebrate the Jewish New Year. If the sky is clear, you’ll see a thin crescent moon in the evening sky. A leader in the local synagogue will take the shofar, a hollowed out ram’s horn, and blow strongly into it, making a loud horn-like sound that flows across the land. This announces to everyone that the new year has begun. The Jewish day begins at sundown.
The secular New Year on January 1 has noisemakers too, like kazoos. But the sound of the shofar is much different, summoning us, not to extravagant partying, but rather to an inward quietness. Along with our Jewish sisters and brothers, we enter a time of reflection, prayer and deep thinking about one’s purpose in life. The question for you, for me and everyone is this: how are we living up to the purposes that God has for having created us?
The reading is about the birth of Isaac. It is piously believed that the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were born on the first day of the new year.
Greet your Jewish friends with the wish that they all give to each other on this day. L’shanah tovah tikateivu:“May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.”
Check out Study Tools in BibleGateway.
I especially recommend the free resource
in Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.
These Firestarters are for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook. You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.