"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD." (Lev 23:23-25)
The seventh Hebrew month is called Tishri which corresponds to September/October. Tishri is also the first month on the Jewish civil calendar.
The following are all the different names used to describe the first day of the seventh month in the Jewish calendar:
Rosh Hoshanna (New Year)
Yom Teruah (The Day of the Awakening Blast or The Day of the Awakening Shout)
Feast of Trumpets Yom HaDin (Day of Judgment)
Yom HaZikkaron (Day of Remembrance)
Yom HaKeseh (Day of the Hiding or Hidden Day)
This feast is celebrated over two days because of the difficulty in olden times of making sure that everyone marked the new moon on the same day. To make sure nobody missed it, two days were appointed.
Tradition states that this is the birth day of Adam (could the second Adam, Jesus, have been born on the same day?).
One of the symbolic references to this day corresponds with the fact that when a King begins to reign he is heralded with trumpets. On this day, trumpets are blown all day long (some commentators say 100 times).
The gates of heaven are supposedly opened on this day.
The resurrection of the dead will take place on Rosh Hoshanna according to the Talmud, (Rosh HaShanah 166).
Yom Teruah can be interpreted to mean "The Day of the Awakening Shout."
[For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thes 4:15-18)]
There are three trumpets that have a name: the first trump, the last trump and the great trump. Each has a specific day in the year: first trump is associated with Pentecost, last trump is associated with Rosh Hoshanna and the great trump is associated with Yom Kippur.
[In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:52)]
"When the Shofar is blown on Rosh HaShana, three different types of noises are sounded. The first is a 'teki'ah.' This sound is one long continuous burst. The second sound is called a 'shevarim.' It consists of three shorter blasts. The third sound is the 'teruah.' The teruah is a set of nine short bursts of sound, a staccato blast. The Gemora in Rosh Hoshanna tells us that these later two sounds are meant to sound like crying: '. . . drawing a long sigh. . . uttering short piercing cries.' The Ben Ish Chai writes that these sounds are meant to contrast with the tekiah. The tekiah, he explains, is a sound of triumph and joy, while the shevarim and teruah are sounds of pain and suffering. Because of the opposing feelings they represent, when one blows the shofar, he is not to connect the tekiah with the others, by blowing the sounds with the same breath."
This is the only day in the whole year that was referred to as the hidden day or the day that no man knows.
[But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matt 24:36)]
The trumpet is blown throughout Elul (the month before Rosh Hoshanna) except for the last day. The trumpet is silent because much about Rosh Hoshanna is concealed and shrouded in mystery and Satan is not to be given notice about the arrival of Rosh Hoshanna.
One custom for this day is to avoid sleeping, especially during evening and morning hours.
On this day you are to bow, bend the knee and prostrate yourselves in awe and thanksgiving. This is unusual as Jewish custom does not include many instances of kneeling or prostration.
"Three books opened - that of life, for those whose works had been good; another of death, for those who had been thoroughly evil; and a third, intermediate, for those whose case was to be decided on the Day of Atonement (ten days after Rosh Hoshanna on Yom Kippur), the delay being granted for repentance, or otherwise, after which their names would be finally entered, either in the book of life, or in that of death."
[He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Rev 3:5)]
The customary greeting for Rosh Hoshanna is--"Shanah tovah tikatevu" ("May you be inscribed [in the book of life] for a good year") and on Yom Kippur--"Chatimah tovah" ("[May you have] a good sealing [of your destiny in the book of life]"). Tradition states that on Rosh Hoshanna "God opens the heavenly books and judges the people according to their works, writing in them who will die and what kind of life the living will enjoy during the coming year. The Ten Days of Penitence (Rosh Hoshanna through Yom Kippur) are thought of as offering an opportunity for repentance that will influence God to change these fates for the better. But on Yom Kippur these fates are fixed or 'sealed.'"
[And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Rev 20:12)]
The following is one of the prayers in the liturgy on Rosh Hoshanna:
"We will celebrate the solemn holiness of this day, how awesome and fearsome it is. On this day your rulership is lifted up, your throne is established in mercy, and you sit upon it in truth. Truly you alone are judge, arbiter, discerner, witness, recorder, sealer, inscriber and reckoner; and you remember all forgotten deeds. You open the book of records and it reads itself, and everyone's signature is there.
"The great shofar is sounded, the still small voice is heard, and the angels tremble with fear as they proclaim: 'Behold! The Day of Judgment!' Even the armies of heaven are to be brought to judgment, for in your sight even they are not innocent. You cause all who come into the world to pass before you like a flock of sheep. Like a shepherd seeking out his flock and causing them to pass under his staff, you cause every living soul to pass before you; you count, reckon and review every creature, determining its lifetime and inscribing its destiny.
"On Rosh Hoshanna it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed: how many will pass away and how many will be born, who will live and who will die; who will die prematurely and who will live out his days; who will perish by fire and who by water; who by sword and who by wild animals; who by hunger and who by thirst; who by earthquake and who by plague; who by strangling and who by stoning; who will have rest and who will wander about; who will be at peace and who will be tormented; who will be at ease and who will be bothered; who will become poor and who will become rich; who will be brought low and who will be raised up."
Hebraic Heritage Ministries http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2175/index.html
Greg Killian http://members.aol.com/gkilli/home
The Temple: Its Ministry and Services by Alfred Edersheim http://philologos.org/__eb-ttms/default.htm
Yom Tov - Project Genesis: Torah on the Information Superhighway http://www.torah.org
Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Ster
The Four Freedoms
Four historical freedoms are mentioned by Rabbi Eliezer in connection with Rosh Hashanah:
1.On Rosh Hoshanna it was Divinely decreed that the long barren Sarah, Rachel and Chana would bear children. 2.On Rosh Hoshanna Yosef was released from prison. 3.On Rosh Hoshanna our ancestors in Egypt were released from their work as slaves. 4.In the month of Rosh Hoshanna -- Tishrei -- the final redemption of our people will take place.
The source for all these freedoms is the shofar. Just as the sound of the shofar on Yom Kippur of the yovel year signals the freedom of Hebrew slaves, so does the shofar blast on Rosh Hoshanna every year signal freedom from the evil inclination which causes man to sin.
Freedom from the power of evil is the wellspring for all of the aforementioned four freedoms. Human bondage is not limited to chains. Physical handicaps, political oppression and economic dependence are all forms of bondage. It was only natural then that on Rosh Hoshanna, the day of freedom from sinful desire, three great women should be released from the physical handicap of childlessness. This pattern is repeated with the release from political oppression, expressed in Yosef's release from prison in which he was so unjustly incarcerated. It reaches national proportions when our ancestors are released on Rosh Hoshanna from the bonds of economic dependence on their Egyptian slavemasters.
But the ultimate national freedom is yet to come, and it too will be ushered in with the sound of the shofar. "And it shall come to pass on that day the great shofar will be blown" (Yishayahu 27:13). This is the sound of the shofar which will mark both the end of Israel's subjugation to other nations and human subjugation to the temptations of evil.
(Rosh Hoshanna 11a-b)
Bible reading: Gen. 21:1-34; 1 Sam 1:1-2:10; 1 Thes. 4:13-18]
See also: Trumpet Judgments
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"Yom HaTeru'ah" or "The Day of the Shofar Blast" has once again arrived, and will shortly inaugurate, supposedly the Jewish Year of 5961, since the creation of the world. Candle Lighting in Jerusalem is just minutes away, which will be 5:48 PM, Sept 29, 2000. Some might argue that the new moon was spotted last night, on the 28th. I didn't see it, though I looked for it. So we are celebrating the Hag tonight.
In this edition of "G-d's Appointed Seasons," we are going to be exploring several aspects of Rosh Hoshanna, what it means to us, and where it is taking us, so I hope you are ready to learn.
The honest truth is that of all the appointed seasons, Rosh Hoshanna is shrouded with mystery far beyond the rest of our feasts. This holiday is unique in many respects, which we shall see, but in particular, the Torah says so little about in connection with its celebration, that its hard to get a grip on it. The only way to discover the mystery of this Hag (holiday) is to take a look at long standing Jewish historical customs and traditions associated with it. This is the path we shall embark upon now, since of all the Hagim, none is more important from an eschatological view, than Yom HaTeru'ah. No other day on the Jewish calendar and from a Jewish perspective pinpoint the coming of Mashiach Ben David (Messiah Son of David), Melech Yisrael (King of Israel), back to the Jewish soil of Tzion.
As we officially enter the great days of awe this evening, our nation will have much to consider, politically, morally, ethically, but above all spiritually. Bnei Israel (the children of Israel) has yet to return as a nation to the G-d of their Fathers the Holy One of Israel, blessed be He. It is for this reason that G-d has planted us, the Remnant, the Messianic community of faith, back upon the soil of Tzion, so that the Redeemer of Tzion can finally be invited to rule as King, on Jewish soil, where He belongs, in the Land which connects us to our redemption. Our mission is to call our people to repentance, so that they might issue this invitation.
This alone friends, will bring about the return of Melech HaMashiach. Therefore, pray for us, that we might endure. And continue to inquire as to state of our peace in Jerusalem (Ps 122:6), especially during the days ahead, because war and much bloodshed are in the forecast and most of us will be unable to avoid it.
A GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The first day of the seventh month of Tishrei is called "a day of shofar blasting" (BaMidbar [Numbers] 29:1). Oral tradition tells us that this day marks the anniversary of the creation of the world. Hence it is the day when, every year, G-d "takes stock" of Creation, judging our actions. Thus, we call it Rosh Hoshanna, the "Head" of the Year; for just as the head directs the body, so too, G-d's judgment on Rosh Hoshanna directs the events of the coming year.
Rosh Hoshanna is a two-day festival which we honor and enjoy with special (new) clothing and festive meals. There is a prohibition against certain types of work. We light holiday candles and recite kiddush (a blessing) over wine. We eat sweet apples dipped in honey, in hopes that we will receive a good, sweet year. The highlight of the daily prayer service is the sounding of the shofar, the ram's horn.
The world started in darkness. Then light came... "And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day. (Breisheet [Gen] 1:5). So too, the correct countings of days should begin in the evening, as the Jews have always done.
EVALUATION BY THE BOOK
The Holy Convocations (assemblies) of Rosh Hoshanna, and Yom Kippor are unlike other feast days in that they are not tied to national historic events... yet. Instead, these assemblies give us a glimpse of the future. They celebrate G-d's role as King of the universe and Judge of all man's deeds. In the Talmud, it is reported that three books are opened for evaluation on Rosh Hoshanna:
1. The Book of Life of the wicked 2. The Book of Life of the righteous 3. The Book of Life of those in between
The righteous are immediately promised a good and eternal life. The wicked are immediately condemned to death. Judgement of those in between is deferred until Yom Kippor, when a final decision is made as to which category they are to be assigned. Hence "Yamai T'shuva" or the 40 days prior to Yom Kippor along with repentance are given to facilitate the decision.
We are taught by our ancient sages and rabbis to evaluate ourselves or "take stock" during this season. So why not mark your calendars and celebrate the feast with us? Set aside these days for serious prayer, Torah study and self-evaluation.
SUFFERING FOR REDEMPTION
Self evaluation is always for a purpose outside of ourselves. In other words, it is not for self-aggrandizement, but rather because we fear the King and the True Judge, and we want Him to redeem us to serve in His kingdom. This is why suffering and salvation go hand in hand. The former forms the basis for the later, as is written: "It is a time of trouble for Ya'acov, and he will be saved from it" (Yirmiyahu [Jeremiah] 30:7). Moreover, the Torah states, "And, when these things happen to you, the blessing and the curse ... take it to heart" (Devarim [Deut] 30:1). The awakening of the spirit of redemption beats in the hearts of the people of G-d, from within the curse itself.
The Rambam (perhaps our most famous Jewish Philosopher and Bible commentator) had this passage in mind when he wrote the following about the Mashiach:
"Anyone who does not believe in Him, or who does not wait for His arrival, is not only denying the words of other prophets, but is denying the Torah and Moshe himself. For the Torah bore witness to Moshe: 'And G-d will return your lost ones, and He will have pity on you, and gather you in ... If you will be dispersed to the end of heaven ... G-d will bring you.' (Devarim [Deut] 30:3-5). These things, which are explicitly written in the Torah, include all that was said by the other prophets."
In the coming new year, let us Crown G-d as our King, out of a true understanding of the processes of redemption which is being revealed before our very eyes. "Stand up and see the salvation of G-d" (Sh'mot [Exodus] 14:13).
THREE GREAT THEMES OF ROSH HOSHANNA
The Jewish customs, traditions and prayers which surround Rosh Hoshanna are embedded with three great themes, all of which involve Israel:
The King of Israel is the Mashiach. The marriage is between the G-d of Israel and His people. What is resurrected is the life of the nation, restored to its rightful geographical place, along with its honor, as the Prophets foretold.
The King --------
Where have the all the kings gone?
As part of the Creation, HaShem wanted there to be a tangible symbol of His Kingship. From this symbol we would be able to catch the smallest glimpse, the most distant echo of the Glory of Heaven, its awesomeness and its majesty. For this reason He created kings.
A few hundred years ago, kings ruled with absolute authority in their lands. More recently, nations have been unwilling to give to their rulers unbounded dominion; rather the king has been placed under the rule of the state.
With the advent of the republic, the notion of kingship has been virtually extinguished. There remain but a few nations who still conserve a constitutional monarchy, but even in those countries, the monarchy is but a pale puppet show beset with problems from without and within.
In a republic, it is the people that rule; or rather, it is the political parties that rule. The fear of the king is no longer a factor.
Yet, if the earthly monarchy is no more than a reflection of HaShem's Kingship, and a means to make it easier for us to accept His Dominion upon ourselves, why has the power and the status of monarchy been allowed to wane?
The answer is because HaShem relates to us in the same way we relate to Him. When the world at large believed in G-d, we were afforded an ever present representation of HaShem's Kingship in the form of the rule of kings. When the world turned to atheism, HaShem allowed a synchronous withdrawal of the power of kings.
The most basic tenet of Judaism is that HaShem is One. Therefore, an earthly king also is a symbol of the unity of His people. Today, under the republic, political parties by definition stand for diffusion and separation. This is but a mirror of the fact that the world has turned its back on HaShem's Oneness.
Kingship will soon return once again to mankind. With it, the world, and especially Israel as a nation, will once again perceive the Oneness of HaShem.
In the meantime, for some two thousand years, the Jewish People has been waiting attentively for the return of the King.
The false monarchy of atheism, the puppet regimes of hedonism and materialism seem to rule unchecked, but from His exile, the King still rules.
He is in hiding. We do not see Him. But we continue an unremitting guerrilla war against His enemies. We therefore cannot allow ourselves to be subjugated to them, nor can we ever accept their rulership.
And He continues to rule, even though we do not see Him. He rules in secret and in hiding. All the while we listen to our Holy Torah, receiving instructions from Him. We long for the day when He will return to us and the world will acknowledge Him as Ruler. There will come a Rosh Hoshanna when kingship will return to the House of David and we shall crown Him, not in exile, but revealed for all the world to see.
It is for this reason Rosh Hoshanna liturgy paints a picture of a coronation. On Rosh Hoshanna, we crown HaShem as our King. But isn't it our duty to acknowledge HaShem's kingship every single day of the year? What is special when we "crown" HaShem on Rosh HaShana?
Remember repentance and the days of awe which lead up to and surround Rosh Hoshanna? During these days, arraigned against us are accusations created by our own transgressions. They accuse us, as it were, of being disloyal to the King by failing to observe His commands; and as the Sages say, "there is no king without a people." HaShem runs the world whether we acknowledge it or not. But HaShem is only a King to the extent that we make ourselves His subjects. That is why Yeshua says, "Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" When we transgress the orders of the King we "diminish" HaShem's Kingship. By our sins, HaShem's Kingship is, as it were, threatened.
This accusation of our disloyalty forces us to renew our commitment to HaShem as our King and we rededicate ourselves to Him. We loyally accept upon ourselves His dominion, and thereby we renew HaShem's Kingdom.
Now, eventually, in the Messianic Age, as the prophet Zechariyahu tells us, The L-RD will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be one L-RD, and His name will be the only name (14:9). That is why, in Jewish liturgy, we sing on every Shabbat, which is a euphemism of the great day of the King, "Peace to all of you, servants of the Highest King, from the King of the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. From this we understand that the Mashiach is the King over all the earth, but Holy One, blessed be He, is the King over the King of Kings. This agrees with Yeshua's own words when he said, "I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (Jn 14:28)
In another example which prepares us for a different aspect of King Messiah rule, during the synagogue services on Rosh Hoshanna we read Mizmor (Psalm) 47 seven times. Why? Because it is a coronation song for the King. Take a look at verse 5 where we have two distinct Jewish elements of Rosh Hoshanna; kingship and resurrection.
G-d raises [them] up with a Blast (or Shout), the LORD amidst the sounding of the Shofar. (Psalms 47:5)
Does this sound familiar? Rav Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) upheld this very same idea when he said, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven, and with a shout... and with the Shofar of G-d, the dead in Mashiach shall rise first..." (1 Th 4:16).
This ties together the purpose of the Shofar with the announcement of the King's arrival. Since the essential mitzvah of Rosh Hoshanna is to hear the sounding of the shofar, one must ask how these shofar sounds relate to the different themes of Rosh Hoshanna, during which we hear three distinct sounds:
1. Tekiah -- one long, straight blast (Kingship) 2. Shevarim -- three medium, wailing sounds (Marriage) 3. Teruah -- 10 quick blasts in short succession (Resurrection)
Rosh Hoshanna is the day of appreciating who G-d is. We then internalize that understanding so that it becomes a living, practical part of our everyday reality. G-d is all-powerful. G-d is the Creator. G-d is the Sustainer. G-d is the Supervisor. In short, G-d is King of the Universe.
But for many of us, the idea of a "king" conjures up images of a greedy and power-hungry despot who wants to subjugate the masses for his own selfish aims.
In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself. (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6)
The object of Rosh Hoshanna is to crown G-d as our King. Tekiah -- the long, straight shofar blast -- is the sound of the King's coronation. In the Garden of Eden, Adam's first act was to proclaim G-d as King. And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: G-d is our King. We set our values straight and return to the reality of G-d as the One Who runs the world... guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human being individually and personally.
Man's creation was unique among all beings created before him. He was the first being with free choice. Only he could decide his fate. Only he could choose between good and evil. Only he could rise above his nature.
Man was given this unique quality because G-d wanted him to choose out of his free will to recognize Him and to adhere to His laws. In fact, this is the purpose for which G-d brought all of creation into being. To do this, man had to have free choice.
This is why the Sages say, metaphorically, that on the first Rosh Hoshanna, G-d was recognized for the first time as "King." Similarly, in our prayers on every Rosh Hoshanna, we address G-d as our "King." King in Hebrew has a special connotation. A king is a sovereign who is accepted willfully by his citizens, unlike a ruler who imposes himself on his subjects against their will. Since a "being with free will to choose" now existed, G-d could now be recognized for the first time as "King," willfully accepted by mankind.
When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we've failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again. Some say that the wailing blasts of the Shofar is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart -- yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve what G-d initially intended for man to achieve.
The sounding of the Shofar resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.
The Talmud says: "When there's judgment from below, there's no need for judgment from above." G-d doesn't need to "wake us up" to what we already know.
The Marriage ------------
Another Rosh Hoshanna theme embedded in our liturgy is the concept of a Jewish Marriage ceremony taking place under the Chupah (clouds at Mt. Sinai), which is all reflected at the Har Sinai stage (Sh'mot [Exodus] 19), when the Torah (the K'tubah or marriage contract) was delivered to Moshe and bnei Israel. All the other wedding elements are also present. In addition to the witnesses of Heaven and Earth, we see the people immersing in a mikveh (the original baptism), they listen to the call of the shofar, even literally "seeing" the voices, stand under a Chupah, receive G-d's K'tubah along with its signet ring (the Shabbat) and betroth themselves to their new Husband forever (Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] 31:32.
Moshe reminds us of this all important event on our 40th wedding anniversary in D'varim (Deut) 29:13, which just happens to be the Parsha (Torah Portion) read in synagogues the world over, on this Shabbat, just before Rosh HaShana.
"...that He may establish you today for a people to Himself, and that He may be to you G-d, as He has said to you, and as He has sworn to your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Ya'acov.
Moreover, on Rosh Hoshanna, another song recited is Mizmor (Psalm) 45. Look at verses 13-15. Here, the elements are a bridal chupah or chamber, virgins and the coming of the King. This parallels Yeshua's "drash" or story in Matt. 25:1-13, depicting the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom to return.
"All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you. They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the King."
Look also at Psalm 27:5 and notice the embedded Rosh Hoshanna phrases: "the day of trouble," "He will conceal me," His tabernacle," "His tent" and "He will hide me." These same concepts are repeated in Isaiah 28:19-21 and in Yochanan (John) 14:1, Matt. 24:40-41, Matt. 25:6, 1 Thess. 5:9, Revelation 4:1-2 and many other places. Rosh Hoshanna is our wedding day!
No wedding can be successful without rehearsals beforehand, and so the Holy One, blessed be He, did not leave us without a means to prepare for this day. Just before each Erev Shabbat (Friday), we have a series of things we do in order to prepare for the Shabbat. In reality, it is a rehearsal for real thing which will occur on Yom HaTeru'ah, when the Great Shabbat, the Day of the Lord begins. During the days of the Temple service, and in some communities today, Jewish men immerse in a gathering of waters (Mikveh -- an outward expression of repentance or change of status -- what the Christian world has borrowed, corrupted and renamed "Baptism"), put on special Shabbat clothes (Matt. 22:1-14) and spiritually prepare our hearts to enter into a day of physical Sabbath rest in which we do no buying or selling, cooking, cleaning or any other work that normally is done during the week. Following the opening Shabbat prayers, we sing a Jewish wedding song for the Sabbath called L'cha Dodi "To you my Beloved". It begins with the words, "Come my friend to meet the Bride, let us welcome the Shabbat! (The Millennial Kingdom)"!
But why all this fuss over the seventh day? Because she is like a Bride to us teaching us lessons about the marriage of Mashiach to His Bride (Talmud: Mas. Shabbat 119a; Ketubot 3b, B. Kama 32b). And since all Believers within the community of faith, who have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel are linked to that promise, the seventh day becomes, in a sense, a wedding rehearsal which is connected to the Feast of Trumpets, a festival that falls on the first day of the seventh Hebrew month, Tishrei. To illustrate this, our sages and rabbis tell a "drash" or story about the seven days of creation, thus:
It was taught that all the elements created by G-d on the first day were paired with His work on the fourth day. Likewise, everything He created on the second day was coupled with G-d's work on the fifth day. Again, everything created on the third day was mated with elements brought out on the sixth day. Finally, at the end of the six days of creation, G-d ceased from His labors and rested on the seventh day sanctifying it as a day holy to the L-rd.
As the story is told, the seventh day approached G-d and said, "O Master of the Universe, with whom will I be paired?"
The L-rd said, "You will forever be paired with Israel."
Thus in ancient Jewish thought, the seventh day, physically and prophetically, developed themes of rejoicing in G-d's creation, marriage to the Mashiach, the coronation of G-d as King and ultimately, a day of rest -- details that paint a Messianic portrait of the millennium.
In Jewish literature, the blast of the Shofar in Shm'ot 19:16 is called "The First Trump" of G-d's redemption. Later, we are taught there will be a "Last Trump." Together, the First Trump and the Last Trump paint a redemption picture of the two-horned ram caught in the thicket on Mount Moriah at the binding of Yitzchak (Isaac). Sha'ul (Paul), knew of this teaching and simply passed it on to the Gentile believers with the Shabbat and the Rosh Hoshanna in view.
The Resurrection ----------------
Sha'ul, well familiar with Rosh Hoshanna liturgy, "types" and imagery, picked up on the importance of Yom HaTeru'ah's Shofar with regard to Resurrection as well. In heralding the return of Mashiach and our being called to assemble to meet Him in the clouds, he connected it to the "mystery" of Rosh Hoshanna in I Cor 15 and 1 Thes 4, thus:
"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last Shofar. For the Shofar will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, and with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the Shofar of G-d the dead in Mashiach shall rise first."
He knew that Rosh Hoshanna was the only feast described in the Torah which did lacked instructions regarding what we were to do besides "commemorate it with Shofar blasts, refrain from regular work and present an offering made to the LORD by fire." Hence it became the "mystery" that Sha'ul could now reveal to us, describing Yeshua's return.
Now just as these types of Kingship, Marriage and Resurrection exist, so too the anti-types must exist in order that the Torah Community might have opportunity to be reminded of who they are, lest they forget.
For this reason Amalek and his descendants were created.
Amalek was the illegitimate son of Elifaz, and the grandson of Esav. (Amalek's mother was the illegitimate daughter of Amalek's father).
The progeny of Amalek is the archetypal enemy of the Jewish People. Their very existence is diametrically opposed to the Torah. The Sages describe the people of Amalek as being the essence of all the evil in the world.
Today, we don't know who is descended from Amalek. Around the year 600 BCE, the Assyrian conqueror Sanchariv exiled most of the world's inhabitants from their homelands and scattered them around the world. Since then, the true national identity of any people (except for the Jews) has become obscure.
The concept of "Amalek" however, goes a long way in helping us understand the baffling phenomenon of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has no sociological parallel. Even the word is unique: "Anti-Semitism" is the only English word describing hate towards a distinct group of people. There's no English word for French-hatred, Irish-hatred, or German hatred, even though England fought bitter wars against all these nations.
We are the only people in the world towards whom there exists a unique, distinct hatred. Why? Because we're supposed to be "A Light Unto The Nations," for this is our particular G-d given role in this world. When we perform as light, i.e. when we do something about bringing the light of Torah into the world, that's when there is light! And when we are not a light, i.e. when we are not performing the good works of the Torah, for which we were made (Eph 2:10), then we end up assimilating, and in essence forgetting who we are, in addition to robbing the world of the light it must have. Whenever this happened in the history of Israel, like a reactor that has gone into critical mass, G-d saw fit to remind us of who we are and that we were His people, by sending us "Amalek," the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the crusaders and the pogromists, enlightenment and emancipation, and the Western World, and all the other threats that happened throughout history. They are sent to stimulate us, to wake us up, and to arouse us back to our original purpose and calling.
This bears out the Torah's prediction that until the Mashiach's days, there will exist a nation, Amalek, with an unexplainable, inborn hatred towards us, whose purpose it will be to stop the King from returning to the soil of Tzion, undermine the wedding of G-d to His people, and squash the resurrection and restoration of the People of G-d to their Land, in an attempt to keep it light from the world.
Yet the promises of G-d are true, and the Holy One of Israel has already seen to it, that nothing shall interfere with His plan.
PURPOSE OF THE SHOFAR
There are ten reasons for the mitzvah (commandment) of blowing the shofar, based on Rav Sa'adiah Gaon. In many of them, links to the major holiday themes discussed above can be found.
1. Rosh Hoshanna is the day that commemorates the creation of the world and it is described as the "coronation" of HaShem (G-d). As it is customary to sound a trumpet at a king's coronation so we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hoshanna. By blowing the shofar we recognize the "purpose" of the creation. (Theme: Kingship)
2. The shofar blast marks the beginning of a period of amnesty which is known as "HaYamim HaNora'im" or Days of Awe -- The Ten Days of Repentance. Repentance is based on the fact that since humanity has been given free-will, and our actions are not pre-determined, we must take responsibility for our actions. The ability to repent teaches us that our future is not bound by our past and that by changing our behavior we have the ability to change our past. (Theme: Resurrection/Repentance)
3. When the Jews accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai, the sound of the shofar is described as "continuously increased and was very great" (Shm'ot [Exodus] 19:19). The shofar serves to remind us of the revelation at Mt. Sinai and therefore to renew our commitment to HaShem and to accept that Torah morality is absolute and G-d given - not relative, nor does it depend on human understanding. (Theme: Marriage)
4. The prophets called out to the Jewish People and aroused them to improve their ways (the root of the Hebrew word for "shofar" also forms the root for the Hebrew word "to improve" (L'Shaper)). The shofar reminds us of the admonitions of the prophets and their calls to repentance. We should be aware of the fact that HaShem communicated with us, via the Prophets, and displayed through them His desire to perfect us and not to punish us.
5. The shofar reminds us to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple where trumpets and shofarim were sounded. Just as HaShem manifests His presence in the world in specific places like the Temple in Jerusalem, He also manifests His presence at special times, such as during HaYamim HaNora'im (Days of Awe).
6. The ram's horn reminds us of the Binding of Yitzchak when Avraham demonstrated his absolute faith in HaShem by being prepared to sacrifice his son. HaShem demonstrated His absolute love for Avraham by having Him sacrifice a ram in his place.
7. The sound of the shofar is supposed to inspire fear in the hearts of those who hear it. It allows one to dwell upon fear of punishment, to progress from there to fear of doing evil and then to fear of G-d. Finally one arrives at the feeling of awe of G-d.
8. The shofar reminds us of the day of judgment in the future. And inspires us to pray for the renewing of world, all of mankind and the Messianic era.
9. The sound inspires us to yearn for the ingathering of the Exiles, that will be heralded by the sound of a shofar. There will be absolute unity amongst the Jewish People and our connection to the Land of Israel will again be absolute.
10.The shofar recalls the resurrection of the dead which will be accompanied by the sound of a shofar. As G-d is the source of all life and the creator of all existence so He has complete control over death. (Theme: Resurrection)
Additional reasons from other sources:
The shofar ushers in the Divine court session and shows our trust in HaShem's judgment. By showing our eagerness to be judged by HaShem we thus confuse the heavenly prosecutor, HaSatan.
Shofar blasts were sounded preceding a war - to rally the troops for action and to call the people together for prayer and repentance and assembly. The shofar is therefore like an air raid siren that alerts us to danger, and summons us to action.
The Shofar (Ram's Horn) is a natural wind instrument, one of the oldest known to the world. In earliest times, the Shofar was used by Jews as a musical instrument.
Originally, the Shofar was blown to herald the beginning of each month (the New Moon). On those occasions short blasts were sounded. But on the New Moon of Tishrei, long alarm blasts were sounded. The Torah states in vi'Yikrah (Leviticus) 23 the reason for the long blasts. It explains that the New Moon of the seventh month marked the beginning of the period of the Holy convocations of Rosh Hoshanna, Yom Kippur and Succot. The first two of these feasts are NOT joyous holidays. The are rightly called "HaYamim HaNora'im" or the Days of Awe and they celebrate G-d's role as Master of the universe. They contain themes of resurrection, kingship, marriage and judgment but they emphasize morality, self-examination, spirituality and holiness. On Rosh Hoshanna, the Shofar blasts about 100 times.
The Blasts of the Shofar also cause us to recall the time that G-d revealed Himself on Mt. Sinai and gave us the Torah.
"The whole world trembled at Your Presence,
shook in awe before You, when You, our King, did reveal
Yourself on Mt. Sinai to give to Your People the Torah
and its Commandments, letting them hear your majestic
voice, your holy words out of flashes of fire. Amid
thunder and lightening did You reveal Yourself to them,
amid the sound of the Shofar did you appear to them."
The Shofar will be blown during the final battles of Israel with its enemies. It will be sounded when our Exiles return. It will be sounded when the Temple will be rebuilt. It is the sound signifying the Presence of the majesty of G-d. We ask that it be sounded again with the arrival of the Mashiach.
NO MAN KNOWS THE DAY OR THE HOUR ??
Our Rabbis and Sages taught that G-d set up His complete redemption plan for mankind, and it begins and ends on the Feast of Trumpets, Yom HaTeru'ah. This line of thought is based upon the seven-day creation week.
Further understanding the built-in themes of Rosh Hoshanna, and thus establishing the resurrection and return on Mashiach for His Bride on this feast invites us to re-examine the perplexing words of Yeshua when he admonished us to keep watch,saying "you do not know the day or the hour," of His return.
However, the words turn out NOT to perplexing at all, once it it understood that this phrase is a Jewish idiomatic expression specifically referring to Rosh Shanah, and it even shows up in other Jewish literature. The phrase is so keyed to this holiday, because of its connection to the lunar cycle and the appearance of Rosh Chodesh (the new moon), that when properly understood, it is as if Yeshua was really saying, "I'll see you again on Rosh Hashanah at some point in the future."
The Torah prescribes that Rosh Hoshanna be observed for one day, on the first day of the seventh month of Tishrei. The penalty for non-observance or for missing the date was excommunication from the Holy Community. This holiday is unique amongst all the feasts, in that it is the ONLY holiday that is celebrated on the FIRST DAY of the month (or New Moon). So how in world were we to know WHEN the new moon would fall given that the lunar cycle is 29 1/2 days?
Well, up till the time of Hillel II, the testimony of witnesses was used to determine the official date of arrival of the New Moon which in turn set the date of the festivals, Pesach, Shavu'ot, Rosh Hoshanna, Yom Kippur and Succot. The only ruling body who could hear the testimony and actually declare that the New Moon had arrived, was the Sanhedrin. No one knew when that day would actually arrive since it could have been on the 29th day, the 30th day or the 31st day (in the event of cloud cover), but they knew the season of its arrival. Hence the Jewish idiom "no man knows the day or hour" came into use.
Once the declaration of a New Moon was made in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin commissioned messengers to go out to notify outlying Jewish communities. If the witnesses were to arrive too late in reporting to the Sanhedrin, this would delay the messengers in departing on time to get the word out to those living far from Jerusalem. This would then result in those communities missing the correct day of observance of the Feast. Since the Lord insisted in the Torah that Bnei Israel (Children of Israel) keep the Feasts at their appointed times or else risk being cut-off from their people, the Rabbis, in protecting against this, made Rosh Hoshanna a two-day Holiday, since it depended upon a New Moon in which no one really knew the "day or hour" of its arrival. "Nevertheless," the Rabbis declared, "the two days are to be considered as one long day."
When the era of the Sanhedrin has passed, and from their time onward, the date of the New Moon was established by calculations alone. These computations provided for the fixing of the beginning of each month throughout the possible span of world history. Thus all the lengths of all future months in exile were now fixed. But this was not the case during the days of Yeshua, and additionally, this formula has introduced error into our Jewish calendar today, which can lead to fixing the wrong date for G-d's appointed seasons.
The result is that all the more we don't know "the day or hour," but we sure know the time of year, the month, and even the week. Which Rosh Hoshanna that Yeshua will return upon is sill a matter of speculation, but I speculate that though it is not this year, it is right around the corner.
The lunar cycle can teach us other truths as well.
Yonatan once said to David: "Tomorrow is the New Moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty." (Smu'el Aleph [1 Samuel] 20:18.
We read this Haftarah when Shabbat falls, as it does this year, on the day before Rosh Chodesh, or the New Moon. The Jewish People (as are all those who belong to the Holy Community) are compared to the moon. Just as the moon grows to fullness over a period of fifteen days and then wanes for fifteen days, so our light is likened to the Moon's, in that the source of its light, like us, is not within us, but comes from another. Our light, just like the moon's, needs to be renewed all the time, and this happens when we yield to the Torah. This gives us opportunity, on a regular basis, to simply reflect the light from a greater source.
Similarly there were fifteen generations of physical and spiritual growth from Avraham to David's son Shlomo, and from Shlomo there was a descent of fifteen generations until the monarchy ended with the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (The Holy Temple) and the exile to Bavel (Babylonian Exile).
However, just as the heavens do not remain dark forever and the moon re-appears, so will the line of David re-appear with the Mashiach in the time of the redemption. For this reason in the monthly prayer of Kiddush Levana (Sanctification of the Moon) we include the verse "David, Melech Yisrael, Chai, Chai, veKaiyam" (David, King of Israel, lives and endures")!
A NATION OF PRIESTS
Another verse which links Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh is: "And it shall be that, from New Moon to New Moon, and from Shabbat to Shabbat, all flesh shall come and prostrate themselves before Me, says HaShem. 66:23).
Every New Moon is a summons to Israel to renew and rejuvenate itself. Every Shabbat is a call to show practical proof of our homage to HaShem by ceasing from our own work. But there will come a time when not only Israel will be called to offer their willing service to HaShem... "And I will establish a distinctive sign amongst them and send refugees from them to the nations to ...Yavan, to the most distant lands that have not heard My Fame, nor have seen My Glory, and they will inform the nations of My Glory." (Yishayahu [Isaiah] 66:19)
Yavan/Greece is the nation charged with the task of elevating the lowly and un-refined nations through culture. But culture is not an end in itself. It is only a preliminary stage. After Yavan/Greece, it is Shem (i.e. Israel -- The Holy Community) who will show mankind the path to elevate itself to an awareness of what is good and true; to pay homage to what is morally beautiful; to lead the nations to the height of Man's calling. The intellect of Greece will one day give way to the wisdom and revelation of Torah, and they will finally come to perceive the 'One-ness' of the Creator.
Then the nations will recognize Israel's role as the priests of mankind, just as the Levi'im are the priests of Israel. The realization of this goal is something absolutely certain. Then every New Moon and every Shabbat will not only bring to Israel a call for renewal of kedusha (holiness) of acknowledging HaShem in free-willed devotion, but all mankind will also hear and heed this call.
But when might this happen? Well, it all depends on...
HOW OLD ARE WE?
Just as G-d's creation plan reflects six days of work and the seventh as rest, so also each day according to the L-rd is prophetically 1,000 years (Mizmor [Psalm] 90:4). Therefore at the end of 6,000 complete years since the creation of Adam, corresponding to the sixth day of the week, and as we approach the seventh day Shabbat (in other words the Jewish year 6001), we can expect a one-thousand year "day" of rest, also known as "The Millennium." It will be marked by a great resurrection of the dead, a gathering of the living and fulfillment of a long-standing marriage contract between G-d and His people Israel. So how close are we to the Jewish year of 6001?
If we know, using revealed biblical chronology alone, that there exists approximately 2000 years from Adam to Moshe, another 2000 years from Moshe to Yeshua (almost to the day!), and then add on the Gregorian/secular calendar in use today, which informs us that we have passed some 2000 years since Yeshua, using simple math, how close to you think that places us? You be the judge.
We just may have the unique privilege of seeing the redemption unfold, in short order.
How else might we know that the King is returning quickly?
MASHIACH IS "THE FLOURISHING ONE." THE REST IS BIO-DEGRADABLE
"For behold I will bring you My servant -- the flourishing one"
(Zechariyahu [Zechariah] 3:8)
Why is Mashiach referred to as the "flourishing one?" Even though today it seems that all remnant of the majesty of the Royal House of David has been uprooted and has vanished into nothingness. Nevertheless, the root is still living, hidden and dormant.
Immediately prior to the coming of Mashiach there will be a tremendous confusion in the world, just as we in fact are witnessing. Everything will seem to have gone haywire. The natural order will be turned on its head: Age will bow to youth. Ugliness will be trumpeted as beauty, and what is beautiful will be disparaged as unattractive. Barbarism will be lauded as culture. And culture will be dismissed as worthless.
The hunger of consumerism and the lust for material wealth will grow more and more, and it will find less and less to satisfy its voracity. Eventually materialism depicted in the historical figures of Esav (Esau), Edom and Rome will grow so ravenous that it will become its own angel of death. It will literally consume itself and regurgitate itself back out.
G-d has put into the creation a restlessness, a lack of tranquility, which is the metaphysical reflection of the exile of the Jewish People. While the nation of Israel still languishes in their final exile, there will be no tranquility in the world, but only decay: "For Zion's sake, I will not be silent, and for Yerushalyim's sake, I will not be still."
But from this decay, the line of David will sprout, like a plant that springs forth from no more than the dirt of the ground. For vegetation cannot flourish unless the seed rots. The second event is predicated on the first. It's interesting to note that Mashiach is referred to as the "tzemach tzedek," literally the "righteous sprouting." For His coming is identical to the growth of vegetation. After three wars of confusion, at the appropriate moment, the Mashiach will appear like a majestic tree flourishing from barren ground, laden with fruit, revealed to all.
The Prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) in 61:10-63:9 describes how, just as the Land will seem to bloom and flourish without any prior cultivation in the time of the Mashiach, so HaShem will redeem His people and shower them with kindness without any prior action on their part, and without them deserving it. Hashem will simply bestow His kindness, through His infinite generosity.
In the last days HaShem will come "marked with scars from the battle with Esav/Edom/Rome and its spiritual heir" to liberate His people and reveal that He has been with them in every exile, frustrating the designs of those who wished to obliterate them.
A CLOSING PRAYER
So, ready yourself to meet the Groom! I assure you, while the world is preoccupied with the global peace and the unity of mankind, you can be focusing on putting on your Shabbat wedding garments (Matt 22:11) and preparing to hear the sound of the Last Shofar (Tehillim [Psalms] 47 & 45:13-15). Take this opportunity to turn your attention to the instructions of G-d (the Torah), as is befitting the Bride of the King.
And while you are at it, pray for us, the Messianic Remnant in Israel, who need your assistance to provide this witness for "Am Israel," the People of Israel. This prayer may help:
May it be Thy will, our G-d and the G-d of our
fathers, to strengthen this nation, to grant
wisdom, understanding and insight and to preserve
the unity and integrity of our people, of the Land
of Israel and the Saints that dwell within it.
Grant strength and fortitude to withstand the
pressures from within and without, and to act on
behalf of Israel for good and for blessing, and we
reconnect to our Torah. May it thus be Thy will,
through Melach HaMashiach Yeshua, Amen.
Yechi HaMelech Yeshua (Yeshua the King Lives)!
May your homes be filled with His resurrection and life,
Hag Samayach, and Shana Tova,
* portions of this article were adapted from materials found on the Ohr Samayach Archives, Jerusalem.
September 30, 2000
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