The festival of Rosh Hashanah, Head of the Year, is observed for two days beginning on the first day of the Jewish year, 1 Tishrei. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind’s role in God’s world.
Rosh Hashanah focuses on the unique relationship between God and mankind: our dependence upon God as our creator and sustainer, and God’s dependence upon us as the ones who make His presence known and felt in His world.
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which also represents the trumpet blast of a people’s coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance, for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and his repentance thereof, and serves as the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Rosh Hashanah observances include:
a) Eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, and other special foods symbolic of the new year’s blessings.
b) Blessing one another with the words “Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim,” “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
c) Tashlich, a special prayer said near a body of water with fish, if possible. Why recite Tashlich near a body of water with fish? Since fish have no eyelids, their eyes are constantly open. This symbolizes God’s constant protective watch over the Jewish people. Just as fish are suddenly caught in nets, so too we are caught in the net of judgment for life or death. Such thoughts should arouse a person to repentance. This symbolizes our hope to be fruitful and multiply like fish. in evocation of the verse, “And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Who is like You, God, who removes iniquity and overlooks transgression of the remainder of His inheritance? He doesn’t remain angry forever because He desires kindness. He will return and He will be merciful to us, and He will conquer our iniquities, and He will cast them into the depths of the seas. Give truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham like that you swore to our ancestors from long ago. From the straits I called upon God, God answered me with expansiveness. God is with me, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me? God is with me to help me, and I will see my foes (annihilated). It is better to take refuge in God than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in God, that to rely on nobles.