Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and begins a 10-day period of atonement where we focus on prayer, self-introspection and repentance.
Customs associated with the holiday include sounding the shofar, eating a round challah, and tasting apples and honey to represent a sweet New Year.
The meaning of Rosh Hashana
By Ebrahim D. Nonoo
Rosh Hashana is an exciting time of year as we reflect on the past year and focus on goals for the coming year. Some may be interested to learn that on Rosh Hashana, we pass by Hashem (blessed be his name) in single file line, and in a matter of minutes our hearts are scanned by our Creator to decide our fate for the year ahead. What is decided for us may include both good and bad, depending upon our heart’s performance in dealing with those around us.
Whatever Hashem has in store for us in the year ahead will ultimately be for our benefit, and this is the crux of our faith, that no matter what hardship we encounter, the consequences of our actions are a testament to our ability to choose the path that we take. It is not enough to say that we can make any choice that pleases us, we must use a rationale that walks in the way of our Lord.
The purpose of the New Year is to be wiser and more considerate in the year ahead, so that blessings can be bestowed upon us.
Once Hashem decides what is in store for us in the year ahead, we then go through the process of the day of atonement (Yom Kippur). During this holiday, the events of the year ahead are rubber stamped or altered, depending on your repentance on Yom Kippur. Asking for forgiveness for your actions is measured by how much you mean it in your heart. We cannot hide from Hashem. Once the rubber stamp is applied, our fate is sealed.
I have always believed that acceptance of what happens to us is the key to a happy life. Whether our fate is sealed with something good or bad, we must have faith in Hashem that this is what is intended for us. Those who accept their fate are the real winners, because they end up not fearing their fate.
Ebrahim D. Nonoo is the president of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities.
Shemini Atzeret - Simchat Torah
During the holiday, we eat foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) to remember how there was only enough oil for one day but it lasted eight days.
We read the megillah – the Book of Esther – twice during the holiday, which tells the story of the holiday. We exchange gifts of food and drink (mishloach manot), donate to charity (mattanot l’evyonim), and have a celebratory meal (seudat Purim).
Passover commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt. The ritual observance of this holiday centers around a special home service called the seder (meaning “order”) and a festive meal; the prohibition of chametz (leaven); and the eating of matzah (an unleavened bread).
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Tish’a B’Ab is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, as it mostly commemorates events that occurred centuries and millennia after the Torah was written.
The Talmud mentions that Five Tragedies occurred to our ancestors on the 9th day of Ab throughout the ages.