What's New in the Jewish New Year
An exploration of the major themes of Rosh Hashanah; Malchiot, Zichronot and Shofarot in the context of Ancient Near Eastern New Year festivities and rites. Source Notes: What’s new about the Jewish New Year The three components of Rosh HaShannah Malkhiot – Kingship - מלכיות Zikhronot - Remembrances - זכרונות Shofarot – Shofar Blast - שופרות 1. Source in the Mishnah one says avot and gevurot and kedushat Hashem, and [then] includes malkhiot with kedushat hayom, and [then] blows [the shofar; then] zikhronot and [then] he blows; [then] the shofarot and [then] he blows [a third time]; We may not have less then ten [verses] of malkhiot, ten of zikhronot and ten of shofarot. (Mishneh Rosh Hashanah 4: 5-6) 2. Source in the Torah Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation. דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵאמֹר: בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ, יִהְיֶה לָכֶם שַׁבָּתוֹן--זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ Leviticus 23:24 Rashi: a remembrance of Scriptural verses dealing with remembrance and Scriptural verses dealing with the blowing of the shofar (R.H . 32a) זכרון פסוקי זכרונות ופסוקי שופרות Where is the source for Malkhiot – Kingship – מלכיות ? Where is the source for the New Year? Where is the source for repentance and new beginnings? Review of Last year’s session…. The Kingship of God is the core message of Judaism. 3. מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים I give thanks before You, Living and Eternal King 4. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱ-להֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם Blessed art You Lord our King… 5. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' הא-ל הָקדוש בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' המֶלֶךְ הָקדוש 6. The 9th and 10th proof text for Malchiyot: The 9th proof text brought for malchuyot (kingship) is the verse from Zechariah 14, 9 used to close the Aleinu prayer. [Some believe Aleinu was written by Tanna Rav in 3rd century Babylonia for Rosh Hashanah services.] וְהָיָה ה' לְמֶלֶךְ, עַל-כָּל-הָאָרֶץ; בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יִהְיֶה ה' אֶחָד--וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד And the LORD shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the LORD be One, and His name one. The 10th and last proof text: שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל: ה' אֱ-לוהֵינוּ, ה' אֶחָד Hear Oh Israel the Lord your God, the Lord is one. 7. The whispered [subversive] proclamation said out loud... ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever. 8. אבינו מלכנו א'ן לנו מלך אלא אתה “Our father. our king we have no king other than you. [author: Rabbi Akiba - Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 25b highpoint of Selichot services leading up to Yom Kippur and of the Yom Kippur service itself and the closing prayer at the Neila service] 9. Biblical rejection of a human king But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said: 'Give us a king to judge us.' And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel: 'Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, in that they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. ( see Samuel I 8: 4-22) כִּי לֹא אֹתְךָ מָאָסוּ, כִּי-אֹתִי מָאֲסוּ מִמְּלֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם. כְּכָל-הַמַּעֲשִׂים אֲשֶׁר-עָשׂוּ, מִיּוֹם הַעֲלֹתִי אוֹתָם מִמִּצְרַיִם וְעַד-הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, וַיַּעַזְבֻנִי, וַיַּעַבְדוּ אֱ-לֹהִים 10. The New Year The four new years are: On the first of Nisan, the new year for the kings and for the festivals; On the first of Elul, the new year for the tithing of animals; Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Shimon say, on the first of Tishrei. On the first of Tishrei, the new year for years, for the Sabbatical years and for the Jubilee years and for the planting and for the vegetables. On the first of Shevat, the new year for the trees according to the words of the House of Shammai; The House of Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof. [Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1] Rabbi Chisda said, 'They only taught [that the year begins in Nissan] this in regard to Jewish kings. But for the kings of the nations of the world, we count from Tishrei, (Babylonian Talmud 3a) א"ר חסדא לא שנו אלא למלכי ישראל אבל למלכי אומות העולם מתשרי מנינן 11. Babylonian New Year - Akitu - Akkadian: rêš-šattim, "head of the year") 21 Adar - 1 Nisannu. There were twelve days of public ritual which according to Henri Frankfort in his seminal work: Kingship and the Gods, was a time of purification, of renewal of the vegetation. It was also a time of dramatic reenactments, it was at this time that the destinies of both gods and mankind were fixed, and the king began his reign on new year’s day. Highlights: 4th day - During the day the Epic of Creation Enuma Elish would be recited. The Enuma Elish, is most likely the oldest story concerning the birth of the gods and the creation of the universe and human beings. It then explains how all the gods united in the god Marduk, following his victory over Tiamat. The recitation of this Epic was considered the beginning of preparations for the submission of the King of Babylon before Marduk on the fifth day of Akitu. 5th day - The submission of the king of Babylon before Marduk. The king would enter to the Esagila accompanied by the priests, they would approach all together the altar where the high priest of the Esagila impersonates Marduk then he approaches the king, begins to strip him of his jewelry, scepter and even his crown then he would slap him hard while the altar would kneel and begins to pray asking for Marduk's forgiveness and submitting to him saying: "I have not sinned O Lord of the universe, and I haven't neglected your heavenly might at all"... Then the priest in the role of Marduk says: "Don't be afraid of what Marduk has to say, for he will hear your prayers, extends your power, and increases the greatness of your reign". The removal of all worldly possessions is a symbol of the submission the king gives to Marduk. After this the king would stand up and the priest would give him back his jewelry, scepter and crown then slaps him hard again hoping for the king to shed tears, because that would express more the submission to Marduk and respect to his power. When the priest returns the crown to the king that means his power was renewed by Marduk, thus April would be considered not only the revival of nature and life but also to the State as well. [i] 12. Egypt there was theSed Festival The Egyptian Sed Festival held in the Fall and celebrated the continued rule of a pharaoh. The ancient festival might, perhaps, have been instituted to replace a ritual of murdering a pharaoh who was unable to continue to rule effectively because of age or condition. … They primarily were held to rejuvenate the pharaoh’s strength and stamina while still sitting on the throne, celebrating the continued success of the pharaoh. The Sed-festival developed into a royal jubilee intended to reinforce the pharaoh’s divine powers and religious leadership. 13. When was Kingship introduced to the Jewish New Year? In the critical view, the Pentateuchal legislation in which the festival appears belongs to the Priestly Code (P) and, therefore, to the post-Exilic period, when the Babylonian influences had become particularly pronounced. The older critical views consider the whole institution to be post-Exilic, pointing out, for instance, that there is no reference to it in the lists of the feasts in Deuteronomy (16: 1—17). More recently, however, Sigmund Mowinckel has advanced the suggestion that there existed in pre-Exilic Israel an autumnal New Year festival on which God was “enthroned” as King (analogous to the Babylonian enthronement of *Marduk). (Encyclopedia Judaica; Louis Jacobs article “Rosh Hashannah’) 14. Earliest significance to Tishrei 1 -10 (Leviticus 25) Then shalt thou make proclamation with the blast of the horn on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make proclamation with the horn throughout all your land. 15. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. And if thy brother be waxen poor with thee, and sell himself unto thee, thou shalt not make him to serve as a bondservant. 40. As a hired servant, and as a settler, he shall be with thee; he shall serve with thee unto the year of jubilee. 41. Then shall he go out from thee, he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. 42. For they are My servants, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as bondmen. For unto Me the children of Israel are servants; they are My servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. In the Talmud Tishrei 1 -10 (Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashana 8b) According to the Talmud, servants were formally freed on the 1st of Tishri, but were allowed to remain on the homesteads of their former masters and to enjoy themselves for ten days, until Yom Kippur, when the trumpet was blown (Lev. xxv. 9) as a signal for their departure, and for the restoration of the fields to their original owners (R. H. 8b). 15. Significance of remembering the sound of the Shofar (Exodus 21) If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 5. But if the servant shall plainly say: I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free; 6. then his master shall bring him unto God, and shall bring him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 22b Now, why was the ear chosen to be bored out of all the organs of the body? According to Rabban Jochanan ben Zakkai The Holy One Blessed be He said said: The ear that heard on Mount Sinai, “For the children of Israel are slaves to Me ” (Lev. 25:55) and not slaves to slaves… and [then] went and acquired a master for himself, [this ear] shall be bored. “You shall not steal” (Exod. 20:13) and [then] went and stole, shall be bored. And if [the text is referring to] one who sold himself [into servitude, the reason is that] רבן יוחנן בן זכאי היה דורש את המקרא הזה כמין חומר מה נשתנה אזן מכל אברים שבגוף אמר הקב"ה אזן ששמעה קולי על הר סיני בשעה שאמרתי (ויקרא כה, נה) כי לי בני ישראל עבדים ולא עבדים לעבדים והלך זה וקנה אדון לעצמו ירצע Conclusion 17. Eric Fromm – You Shall be as Gods pp73 – 75 “Obedience to God is also the negation of submission to man.” “The idea of serfdom to God was, in the Jewish tradition, transformed into the basis for the freedom of man from man. God’s authority thus guarantees man’s independ ------------------ [i] Compare to the accounts of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies: The first mishna in Yoma stipulates that the Kohen Gadol must be sequestered for one compete week prior to Yom Kippur to purify himself and prepare for the holiday. Prior to entering the Holy of Holies the Kohen Gadol removed his golden garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed to a new set of linen garments, again washing his hands and feet twice. There was good reason for the High Priest's decision not to elongate his prayer at this particular time: many a High Priest was struck down dead while in the Holy of Holies. Although the First Temple stood for 410 years, in all there were only 12 High Priests during that entire period; because they were very righteous, they were blessed with longevity. However, the Second Temple, which stood for a total of 420 years, was presided over by more than 300 High Priests. This is because in the spiritual decline of those days, many of these men were corrupted, and bought their office through influence. The Zohar, mentions that a rope was tied around his foot, to drag him out in case he dies. Additionally, if he would change any detail of the incense service within the Holy of Holies (as we mentioned with regard to the Sadducees), he would also die. With this is mind, it is understandable that the eyes of all Israel awaited the exit of the High Priest with bated breath. Being aware of his people's agitation, the High Priest's first concern was that he should not cause them any unnecessary anxiety... and the longer he stayed within, the more Israel's apprehension grew. Thus the High Priest saw fit to forego the opportunity to engage in a long personal prayer, and recited the shorter version so as to exit the Sanctuary with reasonable speed.
Duration: 33 min