What We Remember on Rosh Hashanah

Yael Eckstein  |  September 7, 2021

Man blowing a shofar at the top of a mountain.

“Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.’” — Leviticus 23:24

Today, my family joins Jews around the world in celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. As these are non-working holidays, these devotions have been prepared in advance for you.

In the Bible, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as zichron teru’ah, commonly translated as “a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.” The literal translation of the Hebrew zichron is “remembrance.” The second word, teru’ah, means “trumpet blasts.” The Bible is teaching us that when we hear the blowing of the shofar, the ritual ram’s horn, we are supposed to “remember.”

But what are we supposed to remember?

For other biblical festivals such as Passover or Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), the Bible explicitly tells us that they commemorate events that happened to Israel. Yet for this observance, the Bible tells us that we must remember on Rosh Hashanah, but it doesn’t tell us what to remember.

What We Remember on Rosh Hashanah

When I stand in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and listen to the sound of the blowing of the shofar, I like to close my eyes. I imagine that I am a Jew living in a different time and place, hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.

You see, a lot has changed through the centuries. Our synagogues look different. We don’t dress the way people did 2,000 or even 200 years ago. Our pronunciation of the Hebrew words has changed based on the different places that Jews have lived.

But the sound of human breath passing through a ram’s horn sounds the same today as it did 2,000 years ago in the Temple or 3,000 years ago when the children of Israel heard it at Sinai. And it will sound the same when it is blown in the future.

The shofar was blown at Mount Sinai. It was blown when Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. And the shofar will be sounded at the time of the ultimate redemption of the world as the prophet wrote in Isaiah 27:13. The shofar is the sound of the history. It’s the sound of God’s plan for the world.

And that is what we remember on Rosh Hashanah.

Your Turn:

Take a moment today to appreciate the blessings of the time in which we live. At the same time, think of ways that you can contribute to God’s plan for the future.

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