October 4, 2005


Rosh Hashanah in a Nutshell (Chabad.org)

The festival of Rosh Hashanah --the name means "Head of the Year" --is observed for two days beginning on Tishrei 1, the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind's role in G-d's world.

Rosh Hashanah thus emphasizes the special relationship between G-d and humanity: our dependence upon G-d as our creator and sustainer, and G-d's dependence upon us as the ones who make His presence known and felt in His world. Each year on Rosh Hashahnah, "all inhabitants of the world pass before G-d like a flock of sheep," and it is decreed in the heavenly court, "who shall live, and who shall die... who shall be impoverished, and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise." But this is also the day we proclaim G-d King of the Universe. The Kabbalists teach that the continued existence of the universe is dependant upon the renewal of the divine desire for a world when we accept G-d's kingship each year on Rosh Hashanah.

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram's horn, which represents the trumpet blast of a people's coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance; for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man's first sin and his repentance thereof, and serves as the first of the "Ten Days of Repentance" which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Another significance of the shofar is to recall the Binding of Isaac which also occurred on Rosh Hashanah, in which a ram took Isaac's place as an offering to G-d; we evoke Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son and plead that the merit of his deed should stand by us as we pray for a year of life, health and prosperity. Altogether, the shofar is sounded 100 times in the course of the Rosh Hashanah service.

Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins (AP, 10/04/05)

Bustling cities throughout the Middle East fell eerily quiet Tuesday as the sun fell below the horizon on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

Muslims had hurried home to gather with family and friends to share iftar, the meal that breaks the dawn-to-dusk fast.

For the coming four weeks, Muslims are expected to abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex during daylight hours to focus on spiritual introspection.

In much of the Islamic world religious officials had announced spotting the first sliver of the crescent moon Monday night, signaling the start of the holy month.

Muslims believe God began to reveal the Quran, the Islamic holy book, to the prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago during Ramadan.

Along with fasting, many Muslims spend long periods in mosques and attempt to read the entire Quran during the month. It is believed that during Ramadan, good deeds are rewarded 10 times.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 4, 2005 8:20 PM

Today should be Christmas

Posted by: Palmcroft at October 5, 2005 10:00 AM

Shofar, sho good.

Posted by: obc at October 5, 2005 12:19 PM