Some key ideas to help make Rosh Hashanah special:
- Rosh Hashanah is not about repentance – the world has not been created yet. It’s pre-creation – the time before all time began. There is no past on this day, so there is nothing to regret and repent for. We are recreated today from scratch, with an empty slate.
- Rosh Hashanah is about making Hashem our King – not just over the world but over ourselves. Making Him real in our lives. Tekiah, the long, straight shofar sound is the sound of the King’s coronation – of Oneness.
- Rosh Hashanah is the time of beginnings. On this day we should create a plan and a vision of how to engage with Hashem in the future. How will we make Hashem active in our day-to-day lives? This is the perfect time to write down the blueprint for our new selves. Hashem is about to create the new year and is looking for our input. Shevarim, the three medium, wailing sounds of the shofar are our yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.
- It’s an opportunity to remove ourselves from our past limitations, and reach for the stars (and make concrete plans about how to bring the spiritual “out there” into the mundane “down here”). Teruah, the 9 quick shofar sounds in short succession are like an alarm clock, waking us up from spiritual slumber.
- G-d is interested in your progress report. What did you do better this year? What spiritual areas did you grow in? Where was the inner tension that you managed to overcome? This is our opportunity to validate every accomplishment so sit down and make a list of all the ways you’ve grown and improved this year. No accomplishment is too small.
- We can begin getting closer to Hashem by reminding ourselves that we are Godly, that we have a pure soul. We remember how much we are worth to God, to our families, to our friends, and to the world. This expression of joy gives us the necessary positive springboard to commit to improving ourselves on Yom Kippur. Tashlich, the ritual of casting our sins into water, is the biggest antidote to wallowing in self-pity. We aren’t sinners, we just sin. It helps us visually experience that we can throw away our negative habits because we are at our core holy and pure – a spark of the divine.
- We are reviewed individually and as a collective – the single and the whole. Each individual is extremely important in Hashem’s world. Remember to doven for others at this time, especially those who just don’t know.
- It’s not too late to score some ‘spiritual points’. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are a perfect time to score some points.
You can now download an easy step-by-step guide to the Rosh Hashanah service.
An inspirational quote from Rabbi Yisrael Salanter:
If I knew I could be only what I am now, and no more, I could not endure it. But if I did not strive to be like Maimonides, I could not be even what I am now.
Written based on articles from Aish.com, with thanks to Aish Australia.