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Sep. 20, 2014
Elul 25, 5774

Rosh Hashanah

Nitzavim
 

Deut. 29:10-30:20

Isa. 61:10-63:9

Rom. 10:1-18

Vayelech
 

Deut. 31:1-30

 

Read Summary

The Last Sabbath of the Year...

The last month of the Jewish calendar (counting from Tishri) is called Elul (אֱלוּל), which began Monday, August 25th (at sundown) this year. Traditionally, Rosh Chodesh Elul marks the beginning of a forty day "Season of Teshuvah" that culminates on the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur. The entire month of Elul is therefore a time set aside each year to prepare for the Yamim Nora'im, the "Days of Awe," by getting our spiritual house in order....

During this time we make additional effort to repent, or "turn [shuv] toward God." In Jewish tradition, these 40 days are sometimes called Yemei Ratzon (יְמֵי רָצוֹן) - "Days of Favor," since it was during this time that the LORD forgave the Jewish nation after the sin of the Golden Calf (Pirke d'Reb Eliezar). Some of the sages liken these 40 days to the number of days it takes for the human fetus to be formed within the womb.

Rosh Hashanah begins Sept. 24th
this year...

The Selichot Service...

The Hebrew word selichah (סְלִיחָה) refers exclusively to God's offer of pardon and forgiveness of the repentant sinner. As it is written in Psalm 130:4, "But with you there is forgiveness (selichah), that you may be feared" (כִּי־עִמְּךָ הַסְּלִיחָה לְמַעַן תִּוָּרֵא).

In Jewish tradition, the plural form of the word (i.e., selichot: סְלִיחוֹת) refers to additional prayers for forgiveness recited throughout the Season of Teshuvah (that is, during the 29 days of the month of Elul plus the ten days until Yom Kippur on Tishri 10). Many of these prayers are found in a High Holiday prayer book called a Machzor (מחזור).

It was an old (Ashkenaz) custom that on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, just a few minutes before midnight, the town shamash would go through the neighborhood, rapping three times on each door shouting, Kuma na! - "Please arise to serve the Creator!"  And everyone would quickly assemble for selichot (i.e., penitential) prayers. The appeal to the revelation of the Name YHVH (יהוה) and the 13 Attributes of God's mercy is the central theme of the midnight prayer service.

Since this coming Shabbat is the last of the Jewish year, many congregations hold a late-night "Selichot Service" (called leil selichot, literally, "night of penitential prayers") to offer words of contrition in anticipation of the new year and the High Holidays. Some of the prayers and music for this service are taken from the liturgy for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, thereby providing a transition between the "old year" and the New Year.

During this season, we turn in three ways: we turn back to God (i.e., teshuvah); we turn to others we have harmed (i.e., asking for forgiveness), and we turn to others in need (i.e., giving tzedakah). The theme of this season is to seek the LORD while He may be found:
 

דִּרְשׁוּ יְהוָה בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ קְרָאֻהוּ בִּהְיוֹתוֹ קָרוֹב

dir·shu · Adonai · be·him·ma·tzo, · ke·ra·u·hu · bih·yo·to · ka·rov
 

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near.
(
Isa. 55:6)

Hebrew Study Card

The Anniversary of Creation...

Traditional Judaism regards Rosh Hashanah as the date of the Creation of the universe by God (Talmud: Rosh Hashanah 27a), but the Midrash notes that it occurred six days earlier, on the 25th of Elul, when God created the Divine light by saying, "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3-5). This is the first work of creation (מַעֲשֵׂה-בְּרִאשִׁית) performed by God when He began creating the heavens and the earth. This year, the 25th of Elul occurs on Friday, September 20th (at sundown), which of course is also a Shabbat....

Nonetheless, Rosh Hashanah is regarded as the anniversary of the creation of humanity -- the day that God began to rule as King of the Universe (melekh ha-olam). According to midrash, when Adam first opened his eyes and human consciousness was born, he immediately understood that the LORD created all things, and therefore his first words were, "The LORD is King for ever and ever."

Torah Readings for Elul 25

Yom Tov

Torah Reading

Haftarah

Brit Chadashah

Day of Creation
Fri. Aug. 20
, 2014
Elul 25, 5774

Gen. 1-2;
Deut. 10:14

Isa. 37:16, 42:5;
Neh. 9:6

Heb. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17; John 1:1,14; Rev. 4:11

Rosh Hashanah - ראש השנה
Wednesday, September 24th

Rosh Hashanah (ראש השנה) begins Wednesday, September 24th (at sundown) this year. According to traditional Jewish thinking, this holiday commemorates the creation of mankind by God. The Mishnah (earlier part of the Talmud) refers to Rosh Hashanah as the "Day of Judgment" (Yom ha-Din) since all of creation owes allegiance to the Creator and is accountable to Him.  The Name Elohim (אֱלהִים) revealed in Genesis 1:1 bespeaks God as the Creator and Judge of the universe (the Name YHVH, on the other hand, reveals God's compassion, as the One who intimately relates to humanity and breathes into us the breath of life (Gen. 2:4)). In Jewish tradition on Rosh Hashanah we stand before God as our personal Creator and Judge. Many Messianic Jews believe that the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a symbol of the rapture (ἁρπάζω) of the followers of the Messiah.

Torah Readings for Rosh Hashanah

Yom Tov

Torah Reading

Haftarah

Brit Chadashah

Rosh Hashanah 1
Thur.
Sept 25, 2014
(Tishri 1, 5775)

Gen. 21:1-34;
Num. 29:1-6

1 Sam. 1:1-2:10

1 Thess. 4:13-18;
1 Cor. 15:51-54

Rosh Hashanah 2
Fri. Sept 26, 2014
(Tishri 2, 5775)

Gen. 22:1-22:24; Num. 29:1-6

Jer. 31:1-19

1 Thess. 4:13-18;
1 Cor. 15:51-54

The Torah portion for the first day of Rosh Hashanah is about the birth of Isaac, and the portion for the second day is on the Akedah, or the binding of Isaac (both of which foreshadow the great Lamb of God). The Musaf (additional service) includes extra benedictions added to the normal Amidah, emphasizing God's Kingship, the remembrance of our days, and the call of the shofar to usher in the Messianic Kingdom at the end of days.

Yom Ha-Din - Judgment Day

According to tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of the righteous, the tzaddikim, are written in the Book of Life (סֵפֶר הַחַיִּים), and the destiny of the wicked, the resha'im, are written in the Book of Death (סֶפֶר הַמָּוֵת). However, most people will not be inscribed in either book, but have ten days -- until Yom Kippur -- to repent before "sealing" their fate. On Yom Kippur, then, everyone's name will be sealed in one of the books. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are therefore called Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (עֲשֶׂרֶת יְמֵי תְּשׁוּבָה) - the "Ten Days of Repentance" - so called because it is thought that personal repentance during this time affects the divine decree for the coming year...


 


As Messianic believers, we maintain that Judgment Day has come and justice was served through the sacrificial offering of Yeshua for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the perfect fulfillment of the Akedah of Isaac. Our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, or Sefer HaChayim (Rev. 13:8). We do not believe that we are made acceptable in God's sight by means of our own works of righteousness (Titus 3:5-6), but that does not excuse us from being without such works (as fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives). The Scriptures clearly warn that on the Day of Judgment to come, anyone's name not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). Moreover, professing Christians will stand before the Throne of Judgment to account for their lives (2 Cor. 5:10). "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (1 Cor. 3:13). Life is an examination, a test, and every moment is irrepeatable.  Every "careless" word we utter will be echoed on the Day of Judgment (Matt. 12:36-37). Our future day of judgment is being decided today....

The spring festivals (Passover, Firstfruits, and Shavuot) have been perfectly fulfilled in the first coming of Yeshua as Mashiach ben Yosef, and the fall festivals (Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) will be fulfilled in His second coming as Mashiach ben David. Since the first advent fulfilled all of the spring mo'edim to the smallest of details, we believe that His second advent portends similar fulfillment as revealed in the fall mo'edim

After the summer of harvest (John 4:35), the very first fall festival on the Jewish calendar is Yom Teruah, which is a picture of the "catching away" of kallat Mashiach (the Bride of Messiah) for the time of Sheva Berachot (the seven "days" of blessing that follows the traditional marriage ceremony). Then will come the Great Tribulation and Yom Adonai - the Day of the LORD (יוֹם יְהוָה). The heavenly shofar blasts heard at Sinai will be reissued from Zion.  First will be the gathering together of those who follow the Messiah (i.e., those declared tzaddikim because they trust in the merit of Yeshua's sacrifice), and then God's war against Satan and the world system will begin, culminating in the long-awaited coronation of the King of King of Kings - Melech Malchei Ha-Melachim (מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים).

Rosh Hashanah (or better, Yom Teruah) is therefore a sacred time that has prophetic significance for the Messianic believer, since it commemorates both the creation of the mankind by Adonai as well as the "calling up" of the new creation at the behest of Yeshua, when the sound of the heavenly shofar inaugurates the anticipated End of Days (1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:15-18). Indeed, "teruah" (תְּרוּעָה) is a "calling up" signal for those who belong to Messiah, sounded during the opening of the "Gate to the Wedding" of the great Lamb of God. It also prefigures the coming Day of the LORD and Great Tribulation period that marks God's judgment on an unbelieving world...
 

לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה תִּכָּתֵבוּ בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ

le·sha·nah  to·vah  tik·ka·te·vu  ba·a·do·nei·nu  Ye·shu·a  ha·ma·shi·ach
 

May you be written (in the Book of Life) for a good year
in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah!

Blowing the Shofar (שׁוֹפָר)

Beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul and continuing until the day before Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to blow the shofar (ram's horn) every day (except for Shabbat). This practice was adopted to help us awaken for the coming High Holidays....

The custom is to first blow tekiah (תְּקִיעָה), a long single blast (the sound of the King's coronation), followed by shevarim (שְׁבָרִים), three short, wail-like blasts (signifying repentance), followed by teruah (תְּרוּעָה), several short blasts of alarm (to awaken the soul), and to close with tekiah hagadol (תְּקִיעָה הַגָּדוֹל), a long, final blast:

Listen to the Shofar (click speaker icon)

Shofar Blessing (download)

Blessing before Torah Study:

Click for the blessing

Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
     
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
     
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
     
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
     
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
     
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
     
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
     
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
     
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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