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G-d said to Moses: '… The first of the seventh month shall be a day of rest for you. It is remembrance of sounding blasts, a holy coming-together. No manner of work may be done…' (23:33-34)
These very brief words allude to Rosh Hashanah. It does not say yom terua yihyeh lachem (Num 29:1) - it shall be a day of sounding blasts, but zichron terua - a remembrance of sounding blasts. Rashi explains that the remembrance alludes to the verses said in conjunction with the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, which call on G-d to remember the Israelites for good. The Ramban explains that a remembrance before G-d is needed as Rosh Hashanah inaugurates the ten-day period of judgment and repentance. However, the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 29b) uses it as a hint to the ruling that if Shabbat falls on Rosh Hashanah, the blowing of the shofar should be kept in mind, but not carried out.
It may in addition be suggested that zichron terua refers to something else, which in turn hints at a main theme of Rosh Hashanah which is not explicit in the Torah - namely, that is a serious day of judgment.
For elsewhere, the Torah instructs (during Temple times) that:
When you go to war in your Land against an enemy who oppresses you, you shall sound short blasts (ve-ha-ray-otem, from the word terua) of the trumpets. You shall be remembered before the Lord your G-d, and you shall be saved from your enemies (Num. 10:9).
And straight afterwards:
On the days of your rejoicing and festivals… you shall sound the trumpets (utekatem - from the word tekiah, which elsewhere is used to refer to the blowing of the shofar)… and they shall be a remembrance for you before the Lord your G-d… (Num. 10:10).
This may be seen as a hint of the content and mood of Rosh Hashanah. One should remember - through the 'sounding of blasts' that it is a day of judgment for the forthcoming year. It could be a year - G-d forbid - of bad tidings: represented by 'an enemy who oppresses you'. It could be a year of good tidings: represented by 'days of your rejoicing'. It is up to the Jewish people to remember that Rosh Hashanah is the day that G-d makes that decision. Therefore they should conduct themselves in a positive and suitable way for that occasion, so they may fulfill Moses' powerful injunction: 'You shall choose life, so that you and your children shall live' (Deut. 30:19).
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Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: email@example.com for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
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