"LaShannah Tovah" is the greeting common at this time of year among Jewish people everywhere. It means "A Good Year." According to the calendar of our forefathers, we have begun a new year. It has been 5773 years since HaShem created the earth, according to the reckoning of the rabbis. On the Feast of Trumpets, we celebrate Rosh Hashanah (The Head of the Year). It is on this day, according to tradition, that God fashioned man. Why does the first of Tishri mark the sixth day of creation and not the first? Because after Elohim had created the earth and all of its glory, there was still no one to proclaim Him Melech HaOlam, King of the World. Yes, the angels knew Him to be the supreme ruler, but to be crowned King of kings was the task of man. A ruler may be a despot, but the king is acknowledged by the people as lord of their lives. So today, we are to continue to declare Him King of kings and Lord of lords; for He is good; He is very good.
Therefore, just as the Holy One blessed be He created man in the 6th day of creation, so Mashiach is revealed then, which we near to it. (Note: the Hebrew calendar has an error of 220 years off, so really we are near: 5990 from creation. Which leaves us only 10 more years to the final revelation of Mashiach, and his kingdom here on earth).
So begins "The Ten Days of Awe" solemn days that end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We will look at this important Fast Day next week.
Five days after this Time of Forgiveness, we enter into booths, in which we dwell for the eight days. This Feast of Tabernacles is, for all of Israel, the culmination of a year-long cycle in which HaShem has revealed His character and His ways to His people.
So are the Fall Feasts, a time of Remembrance. Each of the seven annual Appointed Times reveals more of the character of God and of His ways to each of us, too. Each Feast holds, for the believer, a further and deeper understanding of Who God is and of who we are in Him. I pray that each of you will be established in present truth through your study of God‘s Holy Word in the light of the Jewish context in which it was written. I pray that in some way, the Ruach HaKodesh will work through us so that we become the light of revelation of Mashiach that would lead us to see, to know, the ultimate revelation, which is Mashiach this new coming year, 5770.
HaShem’s ways are perfect and all of His paths are right. He is the Light of the World and He has called each of us to be vessels in which to carry that light. This is a time for new beginnings. I pray that you will recommit yourself to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the full revalation of Mashiach to the Jewish people that you know, Shalom al Yisrael (peace upon Israel).
Why the Shofar sound?
Rosh Hashanah is called in the Torah "yom teruah" – the day of the sounding of the teruah. This refers to the shofar sounding which serves as the special ritual commandment that dominates the Rosh Hashanah holiday. The Talmud teaches us that the teruah sound must be preceded by a tekiah – a straight unbroken sound – and followed by another tekiah. Though the teruah is therefore placed at the center and in reality as the focus of the service of the sounding of the shofar the exact sounding of the teruah is a matter of halachic debate. The Talmud records that the difference of opinion revolves as to whether the sound of the teruah is one of a deep heartrending sigh or whether it is a staccato sound of a wail or a call to arms. The Talmud reaches a compromise on this question and both sounds, the deep sigh sound which is now called shevarim and the wailing staccato sound which now assumes the name of teruah, are sounded. Even though the shevarim sound has this different name it is in reality also technically a teruah as far as the Torah is concerned.
The sound of the shevarim is the sound of sadness, lost opportunity, regret and even tragedy if you will. The rabbis of the Talmud stated that a deep gut-wrenching sigh breaks a person in half, physically and mentally. The deep sigh that emanates from within our souls is matched by the sound of the shevarim, the deep sigh that comes forth from the hollow of the shofar. We appeal to God to help us because we fear that we are broken in spirit and will and ability. We are only able to break our bodies and visions with a deep sigh, the sound of shevarim. God wants our hearts and they are only available once we have forfeited our unwarranted hubris and arrogance. Better a deep inner sigh than a public boast. How many seemingly great and powerful people were brought low this year and publicly humiliated! We cannot come to an encounter with the Lord, so to speak, unless first we are broken and humble.
The staccato sound of the teruah conveys a different message. It is also a wail of mourning but in another context it is also a call to arms, a rallying sound for a charge to be mounted against the foe. The Torah tells us that the ancient army of Israel went into battle to the sound of the teruah that urged them forward. Victories are not won with broken hearts alone. Yehoshua is commanded many times to be strong and powerful and not to give in to moments of defeat and frustration. There are no easy victories in life, in a family or a community or a nation. Life is a constant daily struggle and the teruah comes to rally us to strength, loyalty, determination and ultimate triumph. Therefore this staccato sound of the teruah must be included in the shofar service for otherwise we will be tempted to give up and half broken already allow ourselves to become completely defeated. I think therefore the rabbis of the Talmud included both sounds of the teruah – the shevarim and the teruah – in the shofar service to indicate this need for correct balance in approaching our service to God and humans. Humility and strength, a broken heart and a stiffened resolve to improve is the message of the teruah to us.