It’s Not Just the Jewish New Year

October 1, 2016 at 3:04 AM , ,

The name Rosh Hashana, meaning “head of the year”, tells us that this holiday is not only the day on which a new year on the Jewish calendar begins, and when our deeds of the last year are judged. If it were, names like “Start of the Year” or “The New Year” would be more appropriate than “Head of the Year”. “Head of the Year” indicates that, like the head of a human or animal body, in which the entire body’s vitality is contained and from which each limb derives its functionality, the world’s vitality for the entire year is actually contained within the energy of this day of Rosh Hashana. It will then be “dispensed” from Rosh Hashana into each day of the coming year.

Jewish New Year
This tells us that the 48 hours of Rosh Hashana are precious – and not only because their importance is multiplied by however many thousands of hours there are in the year, whose value is all contained within these two days. Just as the brain matter is more sensitive, delicate and vital than the matter which forms the rest of the body, so is the time on Rosh Hashana the most sensitive and crucial of the entire year.

This is why we are cautioned to be careful with every single moment of this holiday. In the words of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, (printed in the addendum to Tehillim Ohel Yosef Yitzchak, p. 205):

Throughout both days of Rosh HaShanah, from an hour before Minchah on the eve of Rosh HaShanah until Maariv at its conclusion, everyone… should be diligent in the reading of Tehillim night and day, for during these two days one must vigilantly abstain from mundane conversation to the utmost. One should sleep less than usual, intensify his devotion in prayer and supplication from the depths of the heart, and recite Tehillim at every free moment.

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