What is the history of Rosh Hashanah ?
Rosh Hashanah history, or the origin of Rosh Hashanah, begins with the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, where it is written that G-d says: "Speak to B'nei Yisrael ("the House of Israel" in Hebrew, referring to the Hebrew people), saying, 'In the seventh month, on the first of the month, shall be for you a (day of) rest, a remembrance of the sounding (of the shofar), a holy convocation'" (Vayikra 23:23-25 or Leviticus 23:23-25).
Until the Babylonian Exile of the Jews who lived in the Kingdom of Judah in either 587 B.C.E. or 586 B.C.E. (these are the secular scholarly dates; Jewish religious scholars date the Babylonian Exile at either 423 B.C.E., 422 B.C.E., 421 B.C.E., or 420 B.C.E.), the Hebrews/Jews had four different New Years, the New Year For Kings, Festivals, and Months (1st day of the Hebrew/Jewish month of Nissan or Nisan; this is the date from which a king counted the years of his reign; this is also the date when the cycle of Hebrew/Jewish festivals began, and this is also the date when the months in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar began to be counted), the New Year For Tithing Animals (specifically, flocks and herds, in which a tenth of one's flock and herd of cattle were tithed or donated to the kohanim I.E. priests and Levites I.E. the assistants to the priests), the New Year For Trees (in which tithes of the fruits of trees were set aside for the priests and Levites, and the planting of new trees was performed on this day), and the New Year For Years (the date when the year number increases in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar as well as being the date for the Creation of the world and of Adam). After the Babylonian Exile, only the New Year For Trees (known in Hebrew as "Tu B'Shevat", "Tu Bi Shevat", or "Tu Be Shevat", literally meaning "15 Shevat", or the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, the day of the New Year For Trees) and the New Year For Years were commemorated. The New Year For Years, also known as Rosh Hashanah, literally meaning "Head of the Year" in Hebrew, refers to the first day of Rosh Hashanah being the "head" or beginning or starting point for the new year. Since Rosh Hashanah is the day of the Creation of the World and of Adam, on this day every year G-d "takes stock" of Creation and everything and everyone in it, so just as the head on one's body directs the rest of the body, so too does the judgements of G-d on Rosh Hashanah direct the events on every day of the new year. Also, just as the body needs the brain in one's head to function properly, time also has its "head" in that Rosh Hashanah is the "head" of the year. Like the brain being the nerve-center of the entire body, Rosh Hashanah is the nerve-center of time and the Hebrew/Jewish calendar. While it only consists of a small segment in the time-cycle, its effect over the coming year can be enormous and immeasurable; just as a small glitch in the brain can have a huge impact on the entire body, any lapses and deviations on Rosh Hashanah can result in major harm to us and our life for the remainder of the year.
Rosh Hashanah History And Origin : From One To Two Days
Originally, Rosh Hashanah was a one-day holiday that was connected to the command by G-d in Vayikra 23:23-25 or Leviticus 23:23-25 ("Vayikra" or "Vayikrah" is simply the Hebrew word for "Leviticus") to observe a one-day holiday on the first day of the seventh month in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, and was not known as Rosh Hashanah, but rather, "Yom Teruah" ("Day of Sounding the Shofar or Ram's Horn" in Hebrew) and "Zikaron Teruah" or "Zikkaron Teruah" ("Day of Remembering the Sounding of the Shofar or Ram's Horn" in Hebrew). In fact, the name Rosh Hashanah came later in Mishnaic times, about 10 B.C.E. until about 200 C.E. or 220 C.E., when the Mishnah of the Talmud was compiled and codified. So how did Rosh Hashanah extend to two days? During the time of Rabban (Rabbi) Yohanan ben Zakkai (circa 1 C.E. - 80 C.E.) of the region of Judea/Israel, who was an important Jewish Sage and a disciple of the great Rabbi Hillel, Rosh Hashanah became a two-day holiday. The major reason for the extension of Rosh Hashanah from one day to two days derives from the methods that were used at that time by the Jewish Sages of the Sanhedrin or Jewish "Supreme Court" and legislative body in Jerusalem to determine a new month. These methods resulted in the new month beginning either on the 30th and final day of the previous month or on the 31st day of the previous month. If the new month was determined on the 30th day of the previous month through confirming astronomical observations which were based on two reliable and independent witnesses arriving at the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem to report sighting the first crescent of the new moon to the Sages by the 30th day of the previous month as well as through mathematical calculations done by the Sages, then the 30th day of the previous month was transformed to become the first day of the new month, and the 29th day of the previous month automatically became the final day of the previous month. If the witnesses did not arrive by the 30th day of the previous month or had reports that were determined to be unreliable, then the 30th day of the previous month became the final day of the previous month and the next day or 31st day became the first day of the new month. This is why Rosh Hashanah for a given year could begin on either the 30th day of the previous month and extend to the 1st day of the new month or occur on the 1st day of the new month and extend to the 2nd day of the new month. On the 30th day of the previous month, since no could definitely determine whether or not the 30th day would wind up being the first day of the new month or the final day of the previous month, the Sages of the Sanhedrin declared that Rosh Hashanah be observed as a two-day holiday to ensure that the holiday would be commemorated by all Jews, both inside and outside Israel. This declaration translated into Rosh Hashanah occurring on either the 30th day of the previous month (specifically, the sixth month in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, known as Elul) and extending to the 1st day of the new month (the seventh month in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, known as either Tishri or Tishrei; the months are counted beginning from the first day of the month of Nissan or Nisan, but the years are counted beginning from the first day of the month of Tishri or Tishrei), or beginning on the first day of Tishri or Tishrei and extending to the second day of Tishri or Tishrei. The custom developed among all Jews to commemorate Rosh Hashanah on the 1st day and 2nd day of Tishri or Tishrei. To ensure that all Jews would be united in celebrating Rosh Hashanah at the same time around the world, since there are different time zones where after 24 hours, some Jews will have finished celebrating Rosh Hashanah while others woul still be celebrating Rosh Hashanah if Rosh Hashanah was only celebrated for 24 hours, Rosh Hashanah was declared by the rabbis to be "Yoma Arichta" or "Yoma Arichtah" ["a (single) long day" in Aramaic] of 48 hours. Today, Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jewss celebrate Rosh Hashanah for two days in addition to some Reform Jews and Reconstructionist Jews, while other Reform Jews and Reconstructionist Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah for just one day. Now you know the history and origin of Rosh Hashanah and its extension from it being a one-day holiday to it being a two-day holiday as well as which Jews celebrate it for one day and which Jews celebrate it for two days! You will, from this moment on, never be caught off guard when a person asks you about this!
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