Study and Theory/
Rosh Hashana

Dotan Barom, Alpaka group

The Tishrei Holidays

Hamahanot haolim educator movement, september, 2006

“Adam was created on Rosh Hashanah and stood in trial before the Master of the Universe” (from the Book of Zohar).

It is autumn again, the mornings are colder, the air is clearer. The day before yesterday we even got a first drizzle (which the meteorologists were quick to declare was not the first rain due to the small quantity of rainfall).

Clouds abate the boredom in the sky with fascinating compositions and all the goodness of the earth is embedded in the 613 seeds of the pomegranate and the hearts of apples. The Jewish tradition commemorates four year beginnings: In Nissan, is Rosh Hashanah for the Kingdom of Kings, the "civil" year, this is the beginning of the Tax year; in Elul, it is the beginning of the tithing of animals, another type of tax year; in Shevat, it is Rosh Hashanah of trees, also used to calculate the tax on crops; in Tishrei, however, it is Rosh Hashanah of the years - this is where we start counting the year of man, and it is also the New Year for planting - in which we plant our crops for the coming year.

For that, two questions are required: Why does the year of man start in Tishrei? What is the connection between the human year and sowing?

The midrash in Sefer HaZohar says: "On Rosh Hashanah a man was created and stood in judgement before the Master of the Universe."

Rosh Hashana is the date of the creation of the first human being, and because of the cyclical nature of myths, each person was created anew every Rosh Hashanah. This is a time of beginnings, where we get a chance to start over.

But, at the same time we are also on trial. Rosh Hashanah is the time to look back on the passing year and do some soul-searching.

Yom Kippur is the time of purification, and until it comes, we are given the opportunity to correct the distortions and complete what is missing. Rosh Hshanah is also the beginning of autumn and when the sowing begins. In the context of the year of man, we are talking about internal sowing of plans and decisions for the resolutions for the upcoming year. After the dead summer, it is time to return to life and start working and cultivating these seeds until we harvest their crops in Shavuot.

From an astronomical point of view, Rosh Hashanah falls in the "Tishrei period," the autumnal equinox. During this period, the Canaanites celebrated a series of year beginnings. The Canaanite myth tells that during this time Baal, the god rain and storm, overcomes the Sea-River, lord of water lines. On the one hand, the myth exemplifies the return of the good rains at this time, and on the other hand, also demonstrates the beginning of the human year. Baal, representing agriculture and culture, overcomes the Sea-River, representing the forces of chaotic nature. Man creates order in his world and can now start the year again.

I wish for us all, that we will know to create ourselves better this year; that we’ll know how to dream and fulfill our dreams in the rain that is coming upon us for the best.

That we’ll know to plant the right seeds and cultivate them into impressive crops, and that only good and grace will haunt us in the coming year as well.

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