tradition of the Jewish New Year celebrations was developed from a biblical
commandment: “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, speak unto the
children of Israel: In the seventh
month, in the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath, a memorial of
blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. There you shall not work: but shall
offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. “(Lev. 23: 24-25).
religious festival in Israel, there are certain blessings, prayers, greetings,
symbolic foods and songs. In the time before the New Year’s festival “Rosh
Hashanah” people wish each other everywhere a good year: at the cash
register in the supermarket, at the dentist, in the garage or at the end of a
meeting with a friend. Depending on the environment another wish will be added
to this greeting. After a parents’ meeting at school – the new school year and
Rosh Hashanah fall in about the same time period – the teachers wish everyone a
good and successful or a good and fruitful year. Of course, there is the wish
for a good and blessed year.
“good”, in Hebrew “tov”, means more than in many other
languages. It is a word that comes from the Bible and appears several times in
the first chapter, in the Creation story. In the Bible, we find no comparative
or superlative of this word. “Good” in the biblical sense means
“better” and “best” at the same time.
example, when Elkana wants to console his childless wife, he says, “Am I
not to you, tov then ten sons?”
(1 Samuel 1: 8). Or, when the frustrated Jonah struggles to accept God’s way of
dealing with Nineveh, he laments, “Tov
is my death then my life!” (Jonah 4: 3). And the psalmist confesses,
“For your mercy is tov then life
…” (Psalm 63: 4).
there is an increase in the Creation story, namely the expression “very
good”. With this “very good” the Creator describes His work on
the sixth day. According to the Jewish tradition, the New Year’s beginning is
the sixth day of creation. In the prayers of the Rosh Hashanah festival, God is
praised as the Creator and King of the whole world.
Most of all
the wishes, one hears the desire for a good and sweet year. Why do you add the
wish for a sweet year to your wish for a good year, asks Rabbi Shraga Simons?
Because that which is good for us, does not always have to be nice or pleasant.
To this day, in Judaism, there is the thought that the apostle Paul formulated
in Romans: “We know that those who love God, all things work together for
good, to those who are called according to his counsel” (Romans 8: 28).
me of a song by the legendary song writer Naomi Schemer: “It might be a
good year. We might even sing Hallelujah, because if it will be a good year is
actually up to us. “
Hashanah is one of the feasts of the month of Tishri together with the Great
Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. No one in Israel is surprised
that the New Year begins on the seventh month. The celebrations that
commemorate God’s deeds in the cycle of the year point out, among other things,
that there is not just one beginning. Also the trees in Israel have a New Year,
when they sprout again at the end of the rainy season.
New Year comes at the end of a hot, dry and dusty summer. When the days are
getting shorter and refreshing dew covers the ground in the morning, nature
gets a second breath. It is the end of an agricultural season and the beginning
of a new one. The roses start to bloom again. As it is sung in a well-known
song: “On Rosh HaShanah
blossomed the shoshana.”