Ten Days of Penitence
The two days of Rosh Hashanah (I will probably call Rosh Hashanah "RH" from now on ) begin The Ten Days of Repentance, or Penitence, but before we get into this holiday we must know a bit of background on These days of awe (just another name for The Ten Days of Repentance).
The Days of Awe are outlined a bit in the following quote, "Three books are opened in heaven on RH, one for the completely wicked, one for the completely righteous and one for those in between"(B.Rosh Hashanah l6b). There is more to this quote, but I did not put it down for the sake of length. I bet you could find it online though, just type in the quote on the search bar. This quote outlines that in the following days you will have time to change your ways by praying, repenting, charity, and just being a good person and doing good things. Essentially, if you are in the book of Death, you are sincerely evil, If you are in the book of Life, you are righteous and good, but most are in between, and the following week and three days are to get into the book of life. Yom Kippur is almost like the climax of The Ten Days of Repentance because that is where your fate is decided, meaning which book you find yourself in. Finally, now we can begin to look into the traditions and meaning of RH now since we now a bit of background.
Rosh Hashanah represents the two days that begin The Ten Days of Repentance, or The Days of Awe. Elul, the sixth month of the religious calendar, is a process before RH, and The Days of Awe represent its climax, but Yom Kippur is the climax of The Days of Awe.
On RH the sounding of the shofar, a long ram's horn, begins. The shofar represents the repentance of Man's First Sin, since RH is the day in which man made their first sin. So the sound of the horn is almost like asking G-d for forgiveness because of Man's great mistake.
So RH is very important because it reminds jewish people that now are the days that we should pray, repent, give charity, and be good, for if not you will end up in the book of death, not life.
Some other traditions for RH are to eat apples dipped in honey to wish for a sweet year because Elul is the twelfth month in the civil calendar, but not religious calendar. Another tradition is to bless a friend with the words, “Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim,” “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” This is pretty much saying have a great year. Finally, you say the Tashlikh or Tashlich, which contains the words “And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.” This prayer is kind of self explanatory, but it means to get rid of your sins to get into the book of Life.
Why Should Other Religions Know What Rosh Hashanah Is?
We should study RH because it is important to know what other people in your community are celebrating, and how we can acknowledge and assist their efforts to make the world a better place. Since on this holiday most Jewish folk are out donating, helping people, or just working for good, other people, who are not Jewish, should join them or at least give them a smiler or a pat on the back. As human beings we know how hard it can be to get off the couch or change your daily routine to help people and the community. Imagine all the people who don't have food, housing, and other necessities for survival. If we all come together and work for the betterment of society than many issues would be solved. That is the main reason why I am posting this article. RH only applies to one religion, but if we spread the behaviors, good deeds, and helpfulness all across the world... Than that would lift people's heads up, get people off the streets, and give people what they need to thrive in this tough world of ours.