Kilde: Bibles For Israel | P.O. Box 8900 | Pueblo, CO 81008
In two days (on Wednesday, September 28 2011 evening), the Jewish people will be entering the very special and holy time of the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah (also called Yom Teruah – Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles/booths).
Rosh Hashanah foods: On the first night of Rosh Hashanah honey is
served with apples and round loaves of challah (egg bread), along with a
blessing over the bread and a prayer for a sweet new year. On the
second night, a new fruit such as pomegranate is also served and a
special prayer thanking God for bringing us to this season is recited.
These feasts and fasts are called in Hebrew – moadim.
The book of Leviticus specifies the reason for each of these appointed times (moadim),
when they are to be kept, and how they are to be celebrated.
Although many people in the world, including Christians, consider these holidays to
be “Jewish holidays,” they are in fact God’s Holy Days and festivals. As such, they
are entirely relevant to anyone who is interested in knowing Him.
“These are My moadim…” (Leviticus 23:2)
Jewish man blowing the shofar at the Western Wall during one of God’s
moadim (appointed times).
A Time for Self-Examination
Rosh Hashanah begins with synagogue services, special prayers, and the blowing
of the shofar.
This holy day is followed by ten days that are set apart and called the Days of Awe.
At the conclusion of these ten days is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).
This intense time of introspection and self-examination provides everyone with the
opportunity to look at the condition of their lives and to get right with God.
Interestingly enough, the very name Israel (pronounced Yisrael in Hebrew) can be
taken to mean ‘right with God’, from two Hebrew words—Yashar (straight, right,
or honest) and El—God.
This is a special time of forgiveness where we both request, and extend forgiveness
from those we have wronged and to those who have wronged us.
God gave this special time for us to focus on repentance and forgiveness, since
fallen human nature leads to sin and unforgiveness.
This is a crucial issue, since Yeshua himself said that unforgiveness, would keep us
from receiving forgiveness from our Heavenly Father,.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
The shofar (ram’s horn) is sounded before and during the High Holy Days.
Sounding the Shofar in Preparation of Rosh HaShannah
During this month of Elul, in many Orthodox Jewish communities the shofar has been
sounded—it’s piercing, haunting sound stirring our hearts to seek God and repent
of the sin in our lives.
When we hear the shofar, we can focus on the thirteen attributes of mercy revealed
to Moses on Mount Sinai:
“The Lord, The Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and
abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands,
who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the
guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
A well-known and greatly respected Jewish sage of the Middle Ages, Maimonides,
wrote that the sound of the shofar is like an alarm call that awakens us: “Sleepers,
arise from your slumber, and those who are dozing, awake from your lethargy.
Review your actions, repent from your sins, and remember your Creator!”
Likewise, the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) exhorts us to wake from our
spiritual slumber and make the most of our time by loving and following God with
all our heart, soul, mind and strength, rather than following empty or frivolous pursuits.
“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Messiah will shine on you. Be very
careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every
opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:14-16)
Jewish prayer book and Tallit (prayer shawl)
From the day after the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur,
special prayers called Selichot (forgiveness) are recited at the beginning of the daily
morning prayer service. These prayers are not short, they add an extra 45 minutes
to the regular daily morning service.
The Hebrew word slichah means excuse me, I’m sorry, or forgive me. Although
we strive to live a pure and holy life before God, all of us sin and fall short of the
glory of God.
We need to repent and ask forgiveness for the many errors we make that hurt
ourselves and others.
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.”
This beautifully embellished door is the front view of a
Jewish synagogue in the Old City, Jerusalem.
A part of selichot is presented here:
“Lord I repent and ask forgiveness:
For the sin that we have sinned before You through hardness of heart.
For the sin that we have sinned before You with utterance of lips.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through immorality.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through harsh speech.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through inner thoughts.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through insincere confession.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through foolish speech.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through impure lips.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through denial and false promises.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through scorning.
For the sin that we have sinned before You with food and drink.
For the sin that we have sinned before You through gossip.
For the sin that we have sinned before You in commercial dealings.
For all these, O God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant atonement.
May we each be challenged to look inside ourselves, asking the Ruach HaKodesh
(Holy Spirit) to reveal hidden sin in our hearts and lives.
During this next couple of weeks, let’s join with the rest of the Jewish people
worldwide and here in Israel, repeating the prayer of the Psalmist David:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See
if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)