What is Rosh-Hashanah and Why Should I Care?

By Gahl Eden Sasson

“In the seventh month, on the first of the month (New Moon), shall be for you a day of rest, a remembrance of the sounding of the shofar” --Leviticus 23:23-25.

If you are human, or consider yourself an offspring of Adam and Eve, then your mythological birthday is coming up on the New Moon, September 18th. Let me be the first or perchance the only one to wish you – Happy Birthday! Make sure you buy yourself a gift; besides helping the economy it will make you feel better.

According to rabbinical lore, Adam and Eve, our primal parents, were created on Rosh Hashanah, which traditionally falls on the New Moon of the seventh month (see quote above). A closer look at the biblical text reveals that God did not only create Adam and Eve on the sixth day, but also gave birth to the concept of relationships. Friday, Veneris in Latin, named after Venus, is the day Adam and Eve were born. The fact we were created under the influence of a benevolent planet is a reassurance that we cannot be that bad after all.

Since the biblical and zodiac year begins in Aries, then Libra, the seventh sign is the month mentioned in Leviticus. Libra, ruled by Venus, is the sign of relationship, marriage and contracts. The fact that our common ancestors, Adam and Eve, were created on a New Moon in Libra is a great sign for all of our relationships. It means that embedded in our mythological “DNA” is the potential of having harmonious and balanced relationships. To this affect, at least according to Astrology and the bible, we are innately good.

On Rosh Hashanah it is accustomed to blow the Shofar - the ram’s horn. This ancient ritual is multi-layered and carries a great deal of symbolism. The Ram is associated with Aries, the sign that begins the biblical as well as Astrological New Year. On the zodiac wheel, Aries is located opposite to Libra. Together they create the first set of opposing signs. You can say that Aries (ruled by Mars, the archetype of Adam) falls in love with Libra (ruled by Venus, the archetype of Eve) on Rosh Hashanah.

The symbolism of the New Moon of the Seventh Month goes even deeper considering the fact that Rosh Hashanah is celebrated precisely halfway through the zodiac. With six signs before and six signs after, Rosh Hashanah is a watershed of energies. According to astrology the year is divided into two main parts. The first half stretching from spring to the end of summer is masculine and active, while the second half from fall to the end of winter is feminine and receptive. The borderline between these two halves is the Fall Equinox when the day and night, the masculine and feminine are equal and balanced. That is the mythos-logic of having the Fall Equinox mark the beginning of the sign Libra, the sign of the scales. This year the Equinox takes place on September 22nd a few days past Rosh Hashanah. Astrology asserts that in the masculine extrovert part of the year, which is now coming to a close, humanity is busy acting, doing, building, sawing, reaping, working, collecting and creating. During the feminine introvert part of the year, we are focused more on assessing, reevaluating, deepening, editing, processing, dreaming, healing and assimilating everything we have done in the active part of the year. The wise rabbis and biblical writers noticed this cyclical dynamics and established a 10 day period following Rosh Hashanah dedicated to atonement. The ten days of contemplations leading to Yom Kippur are a kind of a transition between the active and reactive parts of the year. In Sanskrit this very process is called Karma, which means action and reaction. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, called the High Holy Days, are the Biblical version of Karma. “Whatever a man sows so shall he also reap.” Whatever actions you have taken from spring till this coming New Moon, now is the time to reflect, ask forgiveness, and take responsibility.

In Astrology, Saturn is the planet associated with Karma as well as the process of taking responsibility for past actions. Karma and Saturn define the process of Universal Justice. It is not surprising that the liturgy of the High Holy Days is loaded with prayers containing judicial terminology. The Orthodox Jews believe God has two books he reads and writes during the ten days following Rosh Hashanah: the book of the living and the book of the dead. They believe that God reviews all of our actions and decides what is the appropriate reaction: death or life. If God writes your name in the book of the living, you shall live and prosper. If, however, God decides to write your name in the book of the dead, you should hire a nice Jewish lawyer ASAP. Here is a quote from the most powerful prayer of Rosh Hashanah called Unetanah Tokef:

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
Who by famine and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake and who by plague…

In Astrology, a planet’s power changes depending on the sign it is located in. Since Karma and Saturn are associated with divine justice, according to astrology, when Saturn is in Libra it exerts the most amount of influence. In the next two years, as Saturn moves to Libra for the first time in 30 years, we can expect a great deal of “burning of bad Karma.” In other words, we will all experience the reactions of the actions we took in the last thirty years. That is another reason to blow the shofar. The sound of the ram’s horn is said to obliterate and ward off demons, who we now a days call by their more spiritually correct names: negative energies, shame, regret, jealousy and disease. In folklore, the armies of elves, wizards and angels awake and gather at the sound of the ram’s horn. Whether you believe in these creatures or not, better be on the safe side: go to a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, or click on the link below to engulf yourself in these symbol-saturated sounds of the Shofar.

Have a great New Moon and….start praying…

If you never heard a shofar, here is a link to me blowing the horn