Today is not only the 1st of September for us, but on the Jewish calendar, it is the 1st of “Elul” (the twelfth month of the civil and sixth month of the religious year). Elul immediately precedes “Rosh Hashanah. The month of “Elul” has no specific special importance in the Bible, but throughout the first millennium it was designated as a time to prepare for the important “High Holy Days” that follow it. The month of Elul also is the reminder that our summer days are nearing and end and the fall, which brings in the harvest is nearing!
The “High Holy Days” are 10 days, starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur, are filled with so much potency and meaning there’s a special measure of readiness required prior to them. These 10 days are also known as the “Days of Awe ‘or “Days of Repentance”. During this 10 day span it’s a time to consider our previous years sins and repent of them before Yom Kippur.
Throughout the month of Elul we should be thoughtful and consider what the “High Holy Days” mean and we should, before doing anything else, be soul searching about our deeds and making any confessions that need to be made. We should look back at the mistakes we made in the past year and the planning of changes to make in our new year.
One of the earliest traditions that was developed in connection with the “High Holy Days” was the sounding of the shofar, each day, during the entire month of Elul, except on Shabbat. It is typically blown each morning after the morning service but can also be blown in the evening sometime before sundown. The shofar is blown, starting on Elul 1 and each day through Elul 28. It is not blown on Elul 29, the day before Rosh Hashanah. A total of 100 notes each day are sounded by the shofar. To learn more about the shofar, visit The Old Watchman!
Why is the Shofar Blown? Hearing the shofar calls us to search our souls and reminds us that judgement is upon us all. There are several reasons why it is blown every day during the month of Elul:
- Elul is the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah where, in anticipation of Rosh Hashanah, we should be searching our souls. When you hear the blasts of the Shofar, it inspires us to walk closer to God.
- Moses spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai pleading for forgiveness after Israel sinned with the golden calf. On Moses’ ascent from Mount Sinai, which began on the 1st of Elul and lasted until Yom Kippur, he was accompanied by the blasting of the shofar. That’s 9 days of consistent blasting of the shofar!!
- Blowing the shofar every day for a month prior to/in advance of Rosh Hashanah,
- confuses the enemy and now has not clue what day is the real Rosh Hashanah!
Rosh Hashanah, the first of the “High Holy Days“, marking the beginning of a new Jewish calendar year. It begins at sundown on Sunday, September 30, 2019, and ends at sundown on Monday, October 1, 2019. It’s celebrated for two days. Rosh Hashanah starts the period leading up to Yom Kippur. This time span is known as the Ten Days of Penitence”. These 10 days are an opportunity for us to change through:
- repentance (change of mind, feelings of regret, a determination to change our ways and an effort to repair the effects of our misdeeds)
Then we should also spend these 10 days in faith for what the new year will bring, gratitude for all God’s goodness in our lives, and a celebration of all God has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us.
Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the ninth day of Tishri. It begins at sunset on that day and continues until sunset the next day, lasting about 25 hours. This is a day of “fasting” for observant Jews (see Leviticus 23:32). Webster’s Dictionary defines “atonement” as “reparation for a wrong or injury” and in a religious context “reparation or expiation for sin”. Christian Theology defines it as “the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ”. During this day we acknowledge any misdeeds over the past year, we look for opportunities to apologize and make things right. We are asking God’s forgiveness, atonement, for our sins and to start off fresh for the new year. This is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. At the end of Yom Kippur, at sundown you should shift your mood to joy and release!
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