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Rosh Hashanah

The Aqedah of Yishaq Abinu is a very important theme on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. G-d said to Abraham Abinu that the Shofar (ram’s horn) should be blown on Rosh Hashanah. Through this, whenever His people would sin, the Shofar would remind him of the Aqedah and He would forgive them.

Abraham Abinu asked G-d what a “Shofar” was and on this it is written “…And Abraham lifted his eyes and behold a ram was caught in the thicket by his horns.”

The Shofar is first blown on the first morning of Rosh Hashanah (unless it falls on Shabbath) and is preceded by the blessing of Sheheheyanu. There are some interesting differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi practice in the sound, content and blowing of the Shofar. On the second day Sheheheyanu is not recited. by Sepharadim who, in general, follow the teachings of Maran in the Shulhan ‘Arukh. Ashkenazim, who generally go according to the Rama, recite the blessing on both days.

Some sit for the recitation of the blessings of the Shofar, while others stand. The custom at Midrash BEN ISH HAI is for the congregation to sit during the blessings. The congregation sits during the blowings prior to the ‘Amidah.

Sepharadim blow during both the silent ‘Amidah and the repetition and blow a total of one hundred and one calls (101 is the Gematria for Mikhael, Israel’s guardian angel). The last one being a Teru’ah Gedolah after ‘Aleinu Leshabbeyah. Ashkenazim blow only one hundred calls and the last one is a Teqi’ah Gedolah instead. In some Hassidic communities, the custom is to blow two hundred.

Women are, in theory, exempt from hearing the Shofar. However, most women nowadays are considered to have made a vow to hear it and, as such, if they are unable to hear it on Rosh Hashanah they must make an annulment of that vow prior to the onset of the holy day.

Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest days in the year and a day of judgment for all mankind. In preparation, on the morning of ‘Ereb Rosh Hashanah, one should cut ones hair (specifically before midday, as according to the Qabbalah hair should not be cut in the afternoon). Both men and women go to the Miqweh, (ritual-bath) and some fast. Hattarath Nedareem (the annulment of vows) is made.

It is customary to visit the cemeteries on the eve of the Holiday. In Jerusalem, a Hakham should be consulted concerning changes made to this custom.

When Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday and Friday, one must remember to prepare the ‘Erub Tabshileen in order to be able to cook on Rosh Hashanah for Shabbath.

Click Here for more of the Laws and Customs of Rosh Hashanah.

(Taken from the writings of Hakham Ya'aqob Menashe.)