Submitted By: Miranda Jacobson
A baby cries, a cock crows, the shofar sounds… Jewelers creates facets in a crystal to reveal the gem's natural inner light, allowing it to reflect and deflect the light that is available in the outer world. Similarly, the holiday of Rosh Hashanah can be viewed as a gift, a gem, which our minds and souls may craft facets in, enabling us to reveal our individual and communal inner light. As we utilize these facets, the inner light of our souls are discovered and can be reflected to shine a light on others’ paths as well. This is my personal path to walk during these “Days of Awe” leading up to Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and Clarity. It is my wish in expressing these thoughts, that, it may inspire you to cut and prepare your own gem as well, with these facets of: Rosh Hashanah (the head of the year, one of the new years celebrated in the Jewish lunar calendar), Yom Teruyah (the day of shouting/blasting), and Rosh Hodesh Tishrei (the new moon, the start of the seventh month in the Jewish lunar calendar).
Rosh Hashanah the “head” of the year contains within it personal and communal memories, as well as how one processes the actions of creation. As human beings we are created to possess gifts such as freely developing personalities, inventiveness, and the capacity for cultural development (writing, music, historical awareness). We also count groups via how many ‘heads’ are present in a particular local. What strength can I glean from the memories of being in the presence of my elders/ancestors, which may carry me forward through life’s challenges? How has my connection as a Jew to the Jewish community and its people affected my life? How can I renew my gratitude for the wonder of creation? What actions do I possess that make me count or have meaning, esteem, in my life?
Yom Teruyah the day of shouting/blasting brings to mind the individual and communal "voice", as well as the breath that is needed to live and to create sound. This sound which is made through a Ram’s horn on Rosh Hashanah. The breath, a communal sigh or shout, signifies the remembrance of the month of freedom that occurred in the month of Nissan, (represented by a Ram). Our freedom from oppression and bondage is further symbolized by the ram, as well as the humility shown by Abraham Avinu, our patriarch, in the binding of Isaac, (Genesis 22). Due to his listening to the divine and taking action, a ram appeared to save his son’s life and usher a new era of peace, banning human sacrifice. In awe and with courage we ask: what is my place in this infinite Universe? How do I listen to that inner spiritual spark for guidance to joyously dance through my life? Do I remain silent allowing my talents and heart’s desire to lie fallow and be sacrificed at the altar of cowardice, or do I allow myself to communicate, shout, and blow the ram’s horn? How can I use this gift of breath, individual and communal shout to build unity and strength for myself and for others?
Rosh Hodesh Tishrei: Rosh Hodesh is the Hebrew word for the new moon. Tradition explains that the new moon, is a gift to all Jewish women and to the feminine side of all humanity. The story is recounted that when the Jews were travelling through the desert after being freed from Egyptian bondage, the women refused to give their gold jewelry for the creation of the golden calf. Later on their gold was donated as material to create the temple menorah, thus, creating light and following the spirit of unity. Traditionally women celebrate Rosh Hodesh, the new moon, by putting aside many household duties and gather with other women in their community for a meal and other meaningful activities. Tishrei is the name of the 7th lunar month. The meaning of the word “Tishrei” is to loosen, untie, to dissolve. The new moon also represents that which is unformed, yet to come, unknown possibilities. How can I loosen, dissolve that which is holding me back/obstructing my inner light so I may “shine” more? Do I welcome the unknown with dread, or welcome that which is yet to come with joy and gratitude?
Traditionally these “days of awe” that begin with Rosh Hashanah, prepare us for Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, Clarity and Unity. It is an opportunity for self-cleansing. The inner spirit invites us to become clear and allows us to give voice to the areas, spots, and/or stains in our life that require attention and sometimes action.
So it’s Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hodesh, Yom Teruyah, and we are once again are invited to adorn ourselves and be inspired with this gift, this gem.
Which facet will shine the greatest for you? The world often guides and reflects a light which is sometimes obvious and sometimes hidden. There is a stain remover that is aptly named “Shout”… a coincidence? You decide.