Of all the Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah is the one least focused on Jewish history. In fact, Rosh Hashanah does not commemorate any historically Jewish event at all. Rather, it celebrates the creation of Adam and Eve, which preceded the Jewish nation by thousands of years.
Even the Rosh Hashanah prayers themselves reflect the holiday’s universal theme. In the Rosh Hashanah liturgy – which Jews around the world pray on the New Year – we don’t find any personal supplications. Instead, the prayers speak of God’s Kingdom on earth and the state we wish the world to be in. We pray that all mankind will recognize the One True God, while joining together in unity and in peace to serve and worship Him.
On the New Year, we pray that God will reveal His presence and dominion over all creation, and every man, women, and child will know God and see Him in every aspect of life. Fear or awe of God will not be separate from loving Him. People will experience serving God as the greatest pleasure and joy, while the pursuit of materialism will no longer be of interest.
The betterment of all mankind and all of creation is what we pray for on Rosh Hashanah.
Like other Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah has many names, one of which is the Day of Remembrance. On one level, the Day of Remembrance calls attention to the heavenly judgment which takes place on that day. But it also alludes to the vision God had for mankind before man was even created, and before Adam and Eve had ever sinned. And so we remember on this holiday that in the vision God has for us, His plan for all of mankind is never forgotten.
God has not left the world for a single moment, no matter how dark and ugly as it appears, and still leads humanity to its ultimate purpose and destination.
I look around at what’s going on in the world today, and I see darkness, murder, and desecration all taking place in “God’s name.” And on the other side, I see multitudes who deny God’s existence altogether, believing that the world and the humans who dwell on it spontaneously came into being on their own.
But as I contemplate the state of the world, I have a tremendous desire for the message of Rosh Hashanah to be heard across the globe by every man, women, and child.
More than ever, the world needs God’s revelation. We need God to awaken mankind from our slumber, to return His people from exile, and to put an end to all suffering, wars, diseases, hatred, and immorality. We need to remember, at least once a year on Rosh Hashanah, if not every day, that the beautiful vision God has for us, will be revealed, as stated in Isaiah 11:9 “for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”