Most of the Ukrainians probably heard about the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. However, the understanding of this holiday is often limited only to Uman and thousands of Hasidim coming to celebrate the New Year in this Ukrainian city.
But then you have these somewhat awkward questions, like:
Why is Rosh Hashan celebrated in the fall?
The New Year and autumn is a rather unusual combination for those who associate this holiday with December 31. And yet it's in autumn. Rosh Hashanah falls on the beginning of Tishrei - the seventh month of the Jewish calendar.
The main peculiarity of this calendar is that it is lunisolar, and therefore Jewish holidays annually "move" the dates. The first month of the Jewish calendar, Aviv (Nisan), falls on the March-April of the Gregorian calendar, which means that Tishrei is in September-October.
It is believed that God created the world exactly on the seventh month. Therefore, the calendar starts from it.
In 2018, the Jews celebrate the New Year on September 9 - 11. The New 5779 year.
What is the difference between Rosh Hashanah and the New Year on December 31?
The Jewish New Year is a holiday, first of all, of rethinking and repentance.
It involves the creation of the first people, the tasting of the forbidden fruit, the miraculous salvation of Isaac during the oblation and other important events in biblical history.
Rosh Hashanah is the day of creation of the world and the day of judgment. On this day, the God judges this world.
On the first evening of Rosh Hashanah it is common to greet each other wishing to be inscribed to the Book of Life.
On these holidays, a person must remember everything that happened during the year, confess to oneself in all bad deeds and sincerely repent.
So, Rosh Hashan is an opportunity to "renew" oneself and your relationship with the God.
What we see every year in Uman is a part of tradition of Rosh Hashan's celebration?
Yes and no. In Judaism, as in any other religion, there are a number of schools. What we see every year in Uman is the tradition of the Hasidic Jews, the followers of Rabbe Nachman, who is buried there.
In general, of course, the rules are different. For example, other Jews do not make a pilgrimage to Uman.
What is shofar?
Shofar – a ram's horn. And, probably, the brightest event of the holiday is connected to it.
It is a deeply symbolic act – blowing the shofar. It is believed that the sound of shofar calls believers under the God's judgment.
However, there are other interpretations. Another variant is that the ram horn reminds of a lamb that Abraham sacrificed instead of his son Isaac (which symbolizes the willingness of the believers to sacrifice themselves).
Another interpretation is that the sound of shofar reaches the heavens and confuses Satan, who at this moment tells the God of all human sins.
There is another interesting and important ritual. It is called Tashlikh and symbolizes the salvation and release from the last year's sins.
The believers gather on the banks of the water reservoir, pray and shake off the crumbs from the pockets in the water. This way, they feed their sins to the fish.
What do you eat on Rosh Hashanah?
The traditional fruit in this holiday is a pomegranate. As an option, you could replace the pomegranates with apples. Honey is mandatory, so that the next year is sweet.
A frequent guest on the table is fish, which is always served with the head to “be at the head, not in the tail”.
A wreath-shaped bread is also mandatory. It is called challah. This form means the cyclicity of time.
It is forbidden to eat bitter and sour food, so that the next year did not become a year of troubles.
One should not eat nuts. The reason is the numerical meaning of the word "nut" in Hebrew is similar to the meaning of the word “sin.” And you should not mention the sin on these days.