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It’s the Jewish new year

When the sunsets today, Sunday September 9, it will usher in the Jewish New Year 5779 and begins the new month of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar.

hebrewscriptures with BENJAMIN LEON

A rabbi at the Western Wall blows the shofar

As in biblical times, the day starts with the setting of the sun and when one may see three stars in the darkening sky.

For the Jews, it also signals the 10 days of penitence when the Almighty God of Israel sits in judgement over their lives during the past year. Jews pray that the Almighty will forgive their sins and iniquities and that they be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.

The New Year is marked by two days of morning and evening prayer in the synagogue during which the shofar or the ram’s horn is sounded. The first blast is to crown God as the King.

The commandment to sound the Shofar found in Leviticus: “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts” (Leviticus 23:24); and in Numbers: “You shall observe it as a day when the horn is sounded.” (Numbers 29:1)

Then there are three medium wailing blasts —is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart — yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.

The Teruah sound — nine quick blasts in short succession — resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness and focus.

The ram’s horn as a musical instrument in Jewish history dates back to the time of the patriarch Abraham.

On the tenth day, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a day of prayer and fasting and Jews ask the Almighty to inscribe them in the Book of Life for another year.

Benjamin Leon is a member of the Jewish community in Zimbabwe.


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