Tuesday, September 18, 2012


www.huffingtonpost.com - Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is celebrated in 2012 from sundown on Sept. 16 to nightfall on Sept. 18. The Hebrew date for Rosh Hashanah is 1 Tishrei 5773. Though Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year,” the holiday actually takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. This is because Rosh Hashanah, one of four new years in the Jewish year, is considered the new year of people, animals and legal contracts. In the Jewish oral tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of the creation of the world. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, or Yamim Noraim (the “Days of Awe”), and is followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the “day of atonement.” The Mishnah refers to Rosh Hashanah as the “day of judgment,” and it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are viewed as an opportunity for Jews to repent (teshuvah, in Hebrew) and ensure a good fate.

Jews traditionally gather in synagogues on Rosh Hashanah for extended services that follow the liturgy of a special prayerbook, called a mahzor, that is used during the Days of Awe. At specific times throughout the service, a shofar, or ram's horn, is blown. The mitzvah (commandment) to hear the shofar, a literal and spiritual wake-up call, is special to this time of year. The new year is the only Jewish holiday that is observed for two days by all Jews (other holidays are observed for just one day within the Land of Israel) as it is also the only major holiday that falls on a new moon. A common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is shana tovah u'metukah, Hebrew for “a good and sweet new year.” Many traditional Rosh Hashanah foods - apples and honey, raisin challah, honey cake and pomegranate - are eaten, in part, for this reason. The book of life is opened for the coming year and the fate of each individual is decided by God, according to Jewish beliefs. During Rosh Hashana, the faithful look back at their mistakes of the past year, make amends, so they can start the new year with a clean slate, Karen Lewin, education and youth director at Beth El in Lower Makefield, Penn said.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began the evening of Sept. 16 and ends today at sunset. Rosh Hashanah is a chance to start again. Traditional Rosh Hashanah foods include apple slices dipped in honey, or challah dipped in honey for a sweet year. Ten days after Rosh Hashanah’s start is Yom Kippur, which begins the evening of Sept. 25 and continues into the evening of Sept. 26. These 10 days are known as the 10 days of repentance. They give people a chance to reflect on their actions during the year - right and wrong. Yom Kippur involves fasting from one evening to the next, and most time is spent at the synagogue reading Scriptures. There are many similarities between the Jewish and Hindu traditions.

Shalom to acharyas, and revered guests. I shall speak on similarities in our traditions. Both our traditions have given birth to many other religions: Hinduism has given birth to Buddhism and Jainism, and, similarly Judaism is the mother of Christianity and Islam. We have both experienced the persecution of intolerant rulers. We also have been subject to the holocaust during colonial times. Both our religions are revealed. Hinduism does not have a beginning. It was never started. Dharma was always there. The Vedas are not books, they are revealed facts by Rishis. Similarly Moses did not create the Holy Books. They were revealed. God is the source of both the Jewish and Hindu traditions. Moses did not create the religion. Similarly in our tradition we say even Rama or Krsna didn’t create the religion. We have four Vedas, you have five Holy Books. We have smritis, you have midrash. Both of us remove shoes at the temple. We take a ritual bath before special rites. The outer purity is needed to cultivate inner purity.

HH Mahamandaleswar Sri Swami
Gurusharananandaji Karsni Peeth of Mathura
“Similarities Between Hindu and Jewish Traditions”
First Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit - New Delhi - 2007

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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