Remembrance of Trumpets Past

Rosh Hashanah as described in the Torah looks very different from the Rosh Hashanah we know today. What happened, and what exactly are we celebrating?
A man blows the shofar in Jerusalem for Rosh Hashanah. Photo by Awad Awada/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
A man blows the shofar in Jerusalem for Rosh Hashanah. Photo by Awad Awada/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Observation
Nathan Laufer
Sept. 16 2014

Ever since I first began studying Judaism seriously as a young man, I have felt that there is something not quite right about Rosh Hashanah. In particular, there seems to be a complete disconnect between the holiday described in the Torah and the holiday as understood by most Jews. I had been taught that Rosh Hashanah was the Jewish New Year, the anniversary of the creation of the world, and a day of judgment. But the Torah itself mentions none of those three reasons for celebrating the holiday—and does not even call it Rosh Hashanah. Still more perplexing, in contrast to the other seasonal holidays on the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah seems to commemorate no important moment in the national history of the Jewish people.

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More about: High Holidays, Religion, Rosh Hashanah, Shavuot, Torah