31st August 2009/11th Elul 5769
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We have come to the month of Elul, the 6th month of the Hebrew Calendar, and the month of soul searching and repentance. For us, believers of the Commonwealth of Yisra'el, currently still members of the much divided two Houses of Yisra'el in the dispersion, and those who have returned back to Eretz Yisrael, this is especially a time of reflection on our walk, commitment and dedication to HaShem, our fellow believers from both Houses.
Let us earnestly desire and make every effort towards obedience, reconciliation and the restoration of the Kingdom as prophesied by the Prophets of Yisrael. Daily we are seeing the culmination of events as foreseen by generations of Prophets and Sages under the guidance of HaShem, with plans for the division of Jerusalem and the areas of Judea and Samaria the main topic under discussion by leaders of Nations worldwide.
These are indeed very serious times, and so much depend upon our willingness to search the Scriptures concerning these days, to be transparent before HaShem, to correct our ways, uniting in vision, striving with all our strength and faith to work towards the fulfillment of all things, the final redemption with the coming of Mashiach and the restoration of the United Kingdom of Yisra'el. May we experience this soon in our days!
IMPORTANT UPCOMING FEAST DATES:
Rosh Hashana/Yom Teruah
· Jewish Year 5770: sunset September 18, 2009/29th Elul 5769 - nightfall September 20, 2009/1st Tishri 5770.
· Jewish Year 5770: sunset September 27, 2009/9th Tishri 5770 - nightfall September 28, 2009/10th Tishri 5770.
Festivals of Life
The Depth and Meaning of Moadim
By Rabbi Zev Leff
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Explore the many facets of our mo’adim:
· Discover how Rosh Chodesh teaches us critical lessons about our nation’s purpose on this earth.
· See how Sukkos synthesizes the messages of Pesach and Shavuos and why this leads to joy.
· Appreciate the intrinsic connection between Tu BiShevat and TuB’Av and how they prepare us for the days that follow.
· Understand what sefiras ha’omer teaches us about achieving potential, and why it is the essential prerequisite for accepting the Torah.
· Learn how Tishah B’Av
prepares us for Yom Kippur and, ultimately, for Mashiach.
A Jewish festival is not only a commemoration of a long-ago event — it’s an opportunity to experience the awesome spiritual power that was unleashed on that day.
festival is a gift. Read Festivals of Life and find out how you can tap into
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Author: Rabbi Zev Leff - Cover: Hardcover - Pages: 309
TEACHINGS ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MONTH OF ELUL AND THE BUILD UP TO ROSH HASHANA/YOM TERUAH:
(Comments and areas in blue by the Editor.)
A Time to Reflect
What is Elul?
the Sixth Month of the year, counting from "Nisan," called in the
Chumash, "the first month." Counting from "Tishrei", the
month of Rosh HaShanah, "Elul" is the twelfth, and last month in the
year. Like the names of the other months of the Hebrew Calendar, "Elul
came up", or "returned with," those Jews who returned to Israel
from the 70-year Exile in Babylonia. The expression "returned with"
is particularly significant in this case in that this is the month of
"Return to HaShem," or "Repentance."
Elul is the name of
the month which we are given each year to prepare for the "Days of
Although we believe that HaShem always watches over the world, and is always waiting for our "return," we also believe that, in a sense, He is more accessible during the 40-day period beginning with the start of Elul and culminating in the first ten days of the Month of Tishrei. Those days, known as the "Ten Days of Repentance," begin with "Yom Teruah" and end with "Yom Kippur."
Following the principle of "Seek HaShem when He is at hand; Call upon Him when He is near,"
(Yeshayahu 55:6) we make special efforts to renew our commitment to Him during this period of the year when He is "closest" to us.
Special Significance (Biblical and by "Minhag," (Jewish Custom) )
of Rosh Chodesh Elul
Moshe had gone up in the Month of Sivan, and returned after forty days and forty nights, on the 17th of Tammuz with the First Luchos.(Editor: Tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were inscribed.) When Moshe observed the Jewish People sinning by creating and worshipping the Golden Calf, and participating in other sinful activities centered around the worship of that idol, he broke that first set of Luchos. He ascended Mount Sinai a second time, on the eighteenth day of Tammuz, the day after the great sin, and remained there for another forty days and forty nights, praying to HaShem to spare the Jewish People and to return His full Presence among them.
At the conclusion of the second forty day and forty night period (that is, on the 29th of Av, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul), HaShem forgave the Jewish People and instructed Moshe to ascend Har Sinai yet again the next day, to receive the Second Luchos, on which would be inscribed for the second time the Ten Commandments. Moshe's ascension to Har Sinai for the third time (which also took forty days and forty nights, ending on Yom Kippur) occurred on Rosh Chodesh Elul.
HaShem also restored His Presence to the Jewish People by authorizing the construction of the "Mishkan," the Temporary Structure which served as a "Residence," so to speak, for the Divine Presence, before the building of the First Temple in Jerusalem.
Minhagim (Customs) Related to Rosh Chodesh Elul
Beginning the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and continuing until-but-not-including Erev Rosh HaShanah (the day preceding Rosh HaShanah or Yom Teruah), the custom is to blow the Shofar every weekday (excluding Shabbat, but not Sunday), four sounds –
1. Tekiah - a flat straight sound, "Tuuuu"
2. Combination of Shevarim - three broken sounds, resembling sighing, "U-Tu, U-Tu, U-Tu," and
1. Teruah - nine rapid sounds resembling wailing, "Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu"
2. And a final Tekiah
Note: The duration of the "Tekiah" sounds at the beginning and at the end, both during this Elul-introductory period of Shofar-blowing, and on Rosh HaShanah itself, the Day of Sounding the Shofar, must be equal to the duration of the Shevarim-Teruah (or Shevarim alone, or Teruah alone, as we shall see, placed in between them).
Moshe went up the Second Time to receive the "Aseret
HaDibrot," the "Ten Commandments," the Jewish
People blew the Shofar in the Camp. They did this to impress upon
themselves that Moshe had once again gone up the mountain of Sinai, so that
they would not again make the tragic mistake in judging the time of Moshe's
return, and fall again into Idol Worship.
Therefore, the Jewish People in later generations accepted upon themselves the custom of blowing the Shofar, beginning with Rosh Chodesh Elul to remind themselves that the people of Israel in the desert had sinned with the Egel (Editor: Golden calf), had repented, had been forgiven by HaShem and restored to their former level of holiness. This would arouse in their hearts and minds the importance and the effectiveness of doing "Teshuvah."
Ashkenazic (Northern, Western and Eastern Europe) have the custom, beginning with the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, of reciting Chapter 27 of Tehilim (Psalms), beginning "By (King) David, 'HaShem is my Light and my Salvation,' " until and including Hoshannah Rabbah. (Editor: HOSHANA RABBAH literally means the GREAT HOSHANA RABBAH or the NUMEROUS HOSANNAS is the seventh day of Sukkot.)
This custom is based on the Medrash which links the "Light" of David, and the "Light" of all human beings, to Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Judgment, when by the light of the "neshamah," the soul, Hashem searches out the recesses and "hidden" areas of the human being. This idea is in turn based on the verse "The Lamp of HaShem is the human soul, which searches out all the recesses of his being." And the "Salvation" of David and of all human beings is linked to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when HaShem atones for the sins of His creatures.
What does the name Elul mean?
been interpreted as an acronym, with its Hebrew letters "Aleph,"
"Lamed," "Vav," "Lamed" representing the words
"Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li" (Song of Songs: 6,3).
The words mean "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine," where my "Beloved" is HaShem, and "I" am the Jewish People. (Editor: The 12 Tribes of Israel and their companions.)
Sign of the Month
The Zodiac Sign of the Month is the "Maiden," because of the verse, (Yirmiyahu 31:20), "…Return, O Maiden of Israel, return to these cities of yours!" Because this month is set aside for return to HaShem and Repentance.
Significance of Astrology in Judaism
Historical Background of "Elul"
1. According to Jewish tradition, the World was created by HaShem on the twenty-fifth of Elul, according to the opinion in the Talmud of Rabbi Eliezer, whose opinion is followed generally in connection with questions of astronomical and cosmological (having to do with the "cosmos," or the entire universe) matters. And according to the Biblical narrative in the beginning of the Bible (Bereshit 1:1-31), Original Man and Original Woman were created six Days after the Creation of the Universe. The "Day of Creation" of the first human beings is called "Rosh HaShanah." Hence, it follows that the "Day of Creation" of the Universe was the twenty-fifth of Elul.
to Jewish tradition, it was on the 17th of Elul, that the spies who gave the
tragic and catastrophic report about Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), died,
as the Bible says in BaMidbar (14:37), "The Men who gave a bad report
concerning "The Land" died in a plague before HaShem."
Rabbi Elazar son of Parta said, "Come and see how great is the negative power of evil speech and consequently the greatness of the punishment that it brings! We learn this lesson from the spies. For they slandered only trees and stones (the Land of Israel) - how much worse is the punishment if someone slanders a human being!"
3. In the Book of Nechemiah (6:15), we find, "And the wall was finished on the 25th of Elul, after fifty two days." When Nechemiah came up from the Diaspora of Babylon to Yerushalayim, and saw the city in its ruined state, its walls filled with gaps and its gates burnt with fire, he urged the Jewish People to rebuild the walls, in order that they no longer be a shame among the nations.
The enemies of the Jewish People, Sanbalat the Choronite, Toviah the Amonite and Geshem the Arab attempted to forge a conspiracy to prevent the rebuilding of the walls. When they tried to disrupt the work by physical force, they were repelled by the workers who worked with their tools in one hand and their weapons in the other as the verses there attest, "Those who built the walls and those who lifted and carried the burdens would do their work with one hand, while one hand held a weapon." (Nechemiah 4:11)
And the following additional dramatic descriptions of the situation, which bring to mind the battles of the early Kibbutz-niks against the Arabs at the birth of the modern State of Israel, when tremendous levels of bravery and self-sacrifice were exhibited by the Israeli worker-fighters. "So we did the work, with half of them grasping the spears, from the rising of the dawn until the emergence of the stars. Also, at that time I said to the People, 'Let each man and his attendant spend the night in Jerusalem. Thus, the night was a watch for us and the day was for work. Thus neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the watch who were under me, none of us removed our garments; no one disrobed even to wash their clothes." (Nechemiah 4:15-17)
When the enemies realized that their military attacks were to no avail, they attempted to trap Nechemiah by encouraging him to meet with them, where they would do away with him, he saw through their attempts, as it says, "Then Sanballat sent me the same message with his servant, with an open letter in his hand. In it were written these words: 'It has been heard among the nations, and Geshem confirms it, that you and the Jews plan to rebel, and that is why you are building the wall; and that you are becoming their king, and similar things; and that you have also set up prophets to proclaim about you in Jerusalem, 'There is a king in Judah!' Now these things will be heard by the king! So now, let us come and take counsel together!" (Nechemiah 6:5-7)
But Nechemiah responded, "I sent word to him, saying, 'These things that you say have never happened; you have fabricated them from your heart! For you all try to frighten us, saying, 'Let the resolve of their hands for doing the work be weakened, so that it will not be done.' But now you strengthen my hand!" (Nechemiah 6:8-9)
When the wall was successfully rebuilt, a great "Kiddush Hashem" "Sanctification of HaShem's Name" occurred. As we read, "The wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, after fifty-two days. It happened that when all our enemies heard this, and all the nations around us saw, they fell greatly in their own eyes, for they realized that this work was accomplished by HaShem. (Nechemiah 6:15-16)
are Sin and Repentance?
"Sin" or "Chet" in Hebrew, means
"failure in our relationship with HaShem.
Our goal should be to
continually move closer to HaShem. But "chet" is behavior which
causes us to move away from HaShem.
"Teshuvah" in Hebrew, means "Return."
In this context, it
means "Return to HaShem" and to behavior required of us by
While we deeply regret our movement away from HaShem, we should not despair. Rather, we should bear in mind the verse written by King Solomon, the "wisest of men," in the Book of Kohelet (7,20),
"There is no one
So righteous in the world,
Who does only good,
And does not sin."
Four Steps of Repentance
Teshuvah (Return, or
Repentance) is a generous gift from HaShem, which allows us to erase our
improper actions through a four-step process (see below).
The Torah tells us that no matter how far we stray or how many times we sin, HaShem will wait for us to return to him through Teshuvah.
are four basic parts to Teshuvah:
1. Leaving the Sin
3. Confession Before HaShem
4. Acceptance for the Future
Leaving the sin consists of stopping the commission of the sinful act. One cannot do Teshuvah if one continues to do the sin, even if he or she were to perform the next three steps perfectly.
Regret consists in sincerely regretting one's wrong action. One must be genuinely ashamed and embarrassed over one's sins.
Acceptance for the future consists of resolving in one's heart never to commit the sin ever again.
for the Future
Confession before HaShem consists of an oral confession spoken out loud, in which one formulates in words the commitments and attitudes one has reached in his or her heart. One should say, "I have sinned, I have done such and such; I deeply regret my actions, and I declare before HaShem, Who knows my innermost thoughts, that I will never do this sin again."
1. The above
steps only work for sins committed against HaShem; for sins committed against
other people, one must first ask forgiveness from that person before HaShem
will accept the Teshuvah.
This is the source of the practice by many Jews to contact all of their family, friends and co-workers during this period to ask for forgiveness for anything we may have done to upset them during the past year(s).
2. These four
steps are of course only valid if we do Teshuva AFTER THE FACT. One cannot say
in advance - "I can do this sin, then do Teshuvah and He will forgive
me..." It simply doesn't work that way as it may in other belief systems.
On the other hand...
One should keep in mind that Teshuvah is an ongoing process that cannot be accomplished overnight. No matter how many times a person may stumble in the Teshuvah process, that person has to simply pick him or herself up and keep trying to stay on the right path.
What HaShem is really looking for is the sincerity of the effort that a person puts into their Teshuvah!
Comment: "Doing Teshuvah" is not easy. But, like many other worthwhile processes, a person need only start the job. Once that is done, "somehow" HaShem gets involved and helps the person, so that the person is able to surmount the difficulty.
From and article by The Temple institute. www.templeinstitute.org
The Month of Elul: Busy Being Born
Av 30, 5769/August 20, 2009
We are entering the month of Elul, the month which precedes the new year, Rosh HaShana. Rosh HaShana celebrates the world's creation and more specifically, the creation of the first man. In this respect, Elul is imbued with the characteristics and potentials of a pre-creation process, and in this light we can see Elul to be a month in which who we are, and who we have become can and should be examined and explored. We are all the children of Adam haRishon - the first man - and that makes Rosh HaShana the day of our creation, our collective birthday.
These next four weeks, then, are fertile ground for us, the fertile ground of our own selves, waiting to be plowed and planted, watered and weeded. By rolling up our sleeves, by getting ourselves dirty, as it were, we can begin to return to the person that G-d "had in mind" on the day of our creation.
The unique spiritual reality of Elul is captured in the saying, "The King is in His field." That is, the great king who resides far away in his impregnable castle, and who is never seen by his subjects, has decided to venture forth into the valleys and fields of his people. His visit is unannounced and without fanfare. He wants to surprise us, to see as we are, to touch us. No frills.
The simple metaphor being illustrated here is of G-d, infinite, omnipotent, vastly remote from His creation, deciding to check up on His final work of creation. In other words, on you and me. G-d wants to do away with the distance that time has wrought, and even with the formality of repentance, supplication and prayer. He just wants to see us as we really are, as on the day He created us. No psychic frills, no guilt, no regrets.
But on a deeper level our allegory is telling us something even more profound. The field where G-d seeks us is not at all distant from His abode. For this field in which we toil, this field in which our lives unfold, is none other than Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden, the very place in which we were created. This earth that we plow is not some profaned base material reality, but it is the very stuff from which we were fashioned. By returning to who we are, to what we are, we are reconnecting to the spark of the Divine within us. Our spirits sprout up from this earth and reach heavenward. It is we who are drawing near to the King. For the Almighty One never was remote. He never was inaccessible. It was we who created the illusion of distance. Through our own shortcomings the walls were built. Through our own failings the path to Him was littered with impediments.
While we wait to be
created - again - we have the power to strip off all the extraneous baggage
we've picked up along the way. When we go up before a flesh and blood king,
it's the externals that count: pressed clothing, clean nails, polished shoes,
proper etiquette. But standing before the King of kings, we need only to be
ourselves, no trappings necessary. Just as we were born naked, as we busy
ourselves in this month of Elul for our own upcoming birth, we need to strip
away the dross. We need to trust in who we are. After all, the King is in the
field, and we are G-d's children.
By Ehud Ben Ami
We are all basically familiar with the custom that starting on the first of Elul, the shofar is blown in all the synagogues after the morning service. We know that our customs have been around for many years and have deep reasons, but this one custom is perhaps more interesting than most.
Most people if asked, will tell you that the custom of blowing the shofar during the month of Elul is to awaken that spark inside our hearts to remind us to return once again to G-d, since Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgement, is coming up.
This is true, of course, but why should a shofar be blown? Could not something else be used, maybe banging on a pot or someone announcing in the synagogue that Rosh Hashanah is coming?. True, we blow a shofar on Rosh Hashanah, and so the shofar blowing in Elul does remind us of the shofar that is blown on Rosh Hashanah, but still, what is the reason that a shofar is blown? Why not blow also, or in its place, a trumpet or saxophone?
Actually, I was surprised to find that the origin of this custom dates back to over two thousand years ago. It is brought down in a book called the "Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer". This book is a collection of teachings that were compiled by none other than Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol, the teacher of Rabbi Akiva! Now that's pretty heavy!
In this book, Rabbi Eliezer quotes Rabbi Yehosua ben Korcha who explains that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (the first time) with the first tablets of the laws (the Ten Commandments) and he saw the Jews dancing around an idol, he threw the tablets from his hands and broke them. This was on the seventeenth of Tamuz.
During the next forty-day period he was occupied with executing all of those who engaged in idolatry and grinding the golden calf (which was the idol) into dust.
At the end of this forty-day period, which begins on the eighteenth of Tamuz and finishes on the last day of Av, the next day is the first of Elul. On this day, G-d said to Moses, ascend to the top of the mountain and blow a shofar throughout the camp. This was so that when Moses would ascend the mountain, the Jews would not make the horrible mistake and involve themselves in idolatry.
The teaching continues, that as the shofar was blown, G-d himself ascended to the mountain as it is written in Psalms (47:6) "G-d ascends with the shofar sound, the L-rd is with the shofar."
the teaching of Rabbi Yehosua ben Korcha, each year on the first day of Elul we
blow the shofar. We however, seeing a good thing, have extended it for the
entire month, with the exclusion of the last day.
Now that we have gotten to the truth of the matter it certainly is nice and comfy to know that our customs and traditions have a few (?) good centuries of practice behind them. What we should know is that there is more than a deep intellectual concept behind this, but really an action, that brings us benefits, both in the physical world and in the spiritual world.
The teaching shows us how the shofar reminded the Jews that although Moses had ascended onto the mountain, that he would re-appear bringing us an ability to achieve even greater spiritual heights than we had reached before. It also warned us, that we would pay for our mis-deeds.
The shofar at that time in history was the chief instrument for alarming a population that a danger is impending. Like a siren today that is sounded to warn people to seek shelter or prepare for battle with the enemy, the shofar was used to awaken the population to an impending danger, such as an attack.
Prior to this time period, the shofar was used only to assemble the people for extremely important matters. All who would hear the shofar would immediately drop all of their mundane affairs and run to the center of the camp to see what was so important that the shofar was sounded.
When Moses ascended Mount Sinai, the shofar was sounded, this time instead of as a calling to assemble, to remind the people of the impending danger of inappropriate behavior. It worked, and Moses descended from Mount Sinai forty days later, which was the tenth of Tishre, the day that has become famous for forgiveness, Yom Kippur. In his hands he had the second tablets (of the Ten Commandments). The Jews, of course, rejoiced at seeing Moses this time.
We also today sound that very shofar, for time exists for us today, as it did then in history. On each day, the light of history shines into our lives. We are able to utilize the historic occasions to raise our level of service to G-d to a loftier level, and in doing so, we are elevating ourselves.
Elul is now the
period of introspection. Examining ourselves for spots of idolatry. It is where
we can begin again to serve G-d as we were created to do so.
...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24
Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game.
There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. More on this concept at Days of Awe.
The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.
The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat.
No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayerbook called the machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.
Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. This was the second Jewish religious practice I was ever exposed to (the first one: lighting Chanukkah candles), and I highly recommend it. It's yummy. We also dip bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.
Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services. When the first day occurs on Shabbat, many synagogues observe Tashlikh on Sunday afternoon, to avoid carrying (the bread) on Shabbat.
Religious services for
the holiday focus on the concept of G-d's sovereignty.
The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." More on that concept at Days of Awe.
You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April.
Why, then, does the
Jewish "new year" occur in Tishri, the seventh month?
Judaism has several different "new years," a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time).
See Extra Day of Jewish Holidays for an explanation of why this holiday is celebrated for two days instead of the one specified in the Bible.
List of Dates
Rosh Hashanah will occur on the following days of the Gregorian calendar:
· Jewish Year 5770: sunset September 18, 2009 - nightfall September 20, 2009
· Jewish Year 5771: sunset September 8, 2010 - nightfall September 10, 2010
· Jewish Year 5772: sunset September 28, 2011 - nightfall September 30, 2011
Jewish Year 5773: sunset September 16, 2012 - nightfall
September 18, 2012
(Comments in blue by the Editor.)
Symbolic Sounds of the Shofar
By Jonathan L. Friedmann
The shofar (ram's horn) is the only biblical instrument that has remained in use within the Jewish liturgy. Unlike the other instruments mentioned in the Bible—kinnor (Editor: ancient stringed instrument - lyre or harp), ugab (Editor: wind instruments like the flute), mitzelet (Editor: double cymbals), tof (Editor: timbrel or tabret), etc.—there is no debate about what the shofar looked and sounded like in ancient times: it is the same today as it was then. This remarkable survival owes to three primary factors: (1) The rabbis did not consider it musical (it produces only two or three tones), and so it was exempt from the ban against musical instruments in the synagogue; (2) Its symbolic importance made it indispensable to Jewish worship; (3) Because any modification, such as an added mouthpiece or decorative engraving, make the shofar ritually unfit, its sound and design have resisted change.
The shofar is mentioned 72 times in the Bible, and figures prominently in a number of Talmudic discussions. Its sound is described as a voice (kol), shout of jubilation (teruah), trembling (yabava), and other terms underscoring its magical and symbolic nature. Musicologist Edith Gerson-Kiwi viewed the shofar as a symbol of monotheism itself, calling it "the instrument . . . that brought human sacrifice to an end and sealed God's covenant with Abraham."
The shofar was
sounded at the giving of the Torah: "Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for
the L-rd had come down in the fire; the smoke rose like the smoke of a kiln,
and the whole mountain trembled violently. The voice of the shofar grew louder
and louder" (Ex. 19:18-19). It was used to "proclaim liberty
throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Lev. 25:10)—the
verse inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. It was also used in
warfare, ceremonials, songs of praise, and on various special occasions.
In present-day practice, the shofar is blown at the conclusion of weekday morning services during the month of Elul (except on the day preceding Rosh Hashanah), on Rosh Hashanah, and at the concluding service of Yom Kippur. The baal tekiah (master blower) produces three emblematic sounds on the shofar: tekiah, a long single blast declaring God's coronation; shevarim, three short wail-like blasts signifying repentance; and teruah, nine staccato blasts of alarm intended to awaken the soul.
It is a mitzvah—a commandment—to hear the shofar's ancient call on Rosh Hashanah. Egyptian-born rabbi and philosopher Saadia Gaon (892-942) gave ten reasons for this ruling, including the horn's role in proclaiming God's sovereignty, announcing the beginning of the ten days of repentance, and reminding us to be faithful to the Torah.
The following poem by E. C. Ehrlich, published in Poems for Young Judaea (1917), sums up the atmosphere and emotions surrounding the blowing of the shofar on this sacred day:
the synagogue the light is dim;
The air is hushed around;
Even the silence seems to pray until
We hear the Shofar sound.
O Shofar, tell our souls we need not fear,
Though long and hard the way;
O Shofar, bind us with thy sacred strain,
Till each young heart will echo Israel's pain,
And, like a trumpet clear,
Sound to the world the vow we pledge anew:
To bear all-worthy the name of Jew,
Throughout the coming year!
* * * *
Jonathan L. Friedmann
is Cantor of Bet Knesset Bamidbar in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the editor of four
books: Jewish Sacred Music and Jewish Identity (Paragon House, 2008); The Value
of Sacred Music (McFarland, 2009); Music in Jewish Thought (McFarland, 2009);
and Perspectives on Jewish Music (Lexington, 2009).
Elul: Period of Preparation
The month of Elul is a period of preparation.
It is the month leading up to the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe or the High
Holy Days. Directly preceding Rosh HaShanah on the 1st of Tishrei, the month of
Elul is a period of intense preparation for the spiritual work that we
undertake during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Jewish tradition affords us a
full month for introspection, seeking forgiveness from others, establishing
positive goals for the new year, and attempting to draw closer to God. It is a
time when we step back and look at ourselves critically and honestly, with the
intention of improving.
Today, no one would consider appearing before a judge in a court of law without first preparing his or her case. So it is with the Heavenly Judge on Yom HaDin - The Day of Judgment - another name for Rosh HaShanah. No one should enter into this period without having first prepared their case for repentance.
And so we are given the entire month of Elul to prepare ourselves for judgment, through self reflection, prayer, and the active seeking of forgiveness from those we may have harmed.
The Meaning of Elul?
The name Elul is of Babylonian origin, and first appears in
Hebrew Scripture in the Book of Nechemiah 6:15. In the Hebrew calendar, Elul is
the sixth month of the year, if you begin counting from Nisan, the month of
Passover, which is referred to in Va-Yikra (Leviticus) 23:5 as "the first
month.” If you count from Tishrei, the month of Rosh HaShanah - the “Head” of
the year - then Elul is the twelfth month, and therefore the last month in the
The word Elul - - is said to be an acronym of Ani l'dodi v'dodi li - "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine" from Song of Songs 6:3. The “Beloved” is said to be the Holy One and the "I" is the people of Israel. In the Aramaic language, which was spoken by the Jewish people at the time that the names of the months were set, the word Elul means "search." This is certainly an appropriate name for this period of time when we are encouraged to search our souls.
Elul is also a significant period of Teshuvah (repentence) because this is the same period Moses spent on Mount Sinai pleading for forgiveness for the people of Israel. After the Israelites demonstrated their lack of faith in G-d by creating and worshipping the Golden Calf, which led to Moses smashing the first set of tablets, Moses ascended again to the top of the mountain on the first of Elul. He remained there for 40 days, beseeching the Holy One to spare the Israelites. G-d responded positively by instructing Moses to create a new set of tablets of the Ten Commandments. Moses returned to the people on Yom Kippur.
God Is At Hand
Jewish tradition teaches that the Holy One is
more accessible during the 40-day period beginning with the start of Elul and
culminating in the first ten days of the month of Tishrei, ending with Yom
Kippur. The Mystical Sages referred to this period as when “The King is in the
Field.” This is based in the notion that, when a king is enthroned in his
palace, he is not easily accessible; audience is granted only to those who have
merited his attention. But when the king is out in public, anyone may approach
him. When the "King is in the Field," out to inspect the produce of
his land, he is concerned about the well-being of the inhabitants of his
kingdom. Not only is this is the time when the king may be approached by the
farmer, but the farmer should approach him, to show respect, and to take full
advantage of this rare opportunity to express his needs and thoughts to the
So it is with the month of Elul. This is the time when the Eternal King leaves the heavenly throne and descends to inspect this world. This is the period when we are closest to G-d, and G-d is most receptive to our prayers. We look to the words of the prophet Isaiah, who said, "Seek G-d when He is at hand; Call upon Him when He is near" (55:6). And so we make special efforts during this period to renew our commitment to G-d, when the Holy One is "nearest" to us.
Beginning on the second day of Rosh Chodesh
Elul and continuing until (but not including) the day before Rosh HaShanah, it
is customary to blow the Shofar (ram’s horn) every weekday morning. When Moses
went up the second time to receive the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the
Israelites blew the Shofar in the Camp. This was done to remind themselves of
their sin of the Golden Calf, and to assure that they would not again succumb
to the sin of idol worship.
To this day we blow the Shofar throughout Elul to remember that, just as our ancestors sinned and were forgiven, we too have sinned and need to use this period to sincerely repent, so that we too can be forgiven. As the Rambam, (Maimonides) taught in Hilchot Teshuvah, the sound of the Shofar during Elul symbolically declares, “Awake all you who are asleep; search your ways and mend them in repentance.”
During Elul, many Jews will recite Chapter 27 of Tehilim (Psalms) as part of the morning and afternoon prayers. Also, many will use this period of preparation to study the Makhzor (High Holy Day prayerbook), Maimonides’s Hilchot Teshuvah, and other books on repentance and ethical conduct. It is also common at this time to have Mezzuzot and Tefillin inspected by a Sofer (scribe) to assure they are still kosher, and to visit the grave sites of loved ones. As always, giving Tzedakah is highly appropriate in this time leading up to the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (Ten Days of Repentance).
Chai Elul Anthology – 18th of Elul - The Birthdays of the Founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Baal Shem Tov in 1696 and Thirty Six Year Later started Chassisim on this date - - Also the Birthday of Rabbi Schneur Zalman the Founder of the Chabad branch of Chassidism
As the month of Elul draws to an end, our efforts towards Teshuvah become more intense. Beginning on the Sunday before Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur, special penitential prayers called Selichot are added to the daily cycle of worship. Selichot prayers are usually recited in the early morning, before the normal daily morning service. However, Selichot usually begins on Motzei Shabbat (after nightfall on Saturday) of the week before Rosh HaShanah. The first Selichot service of the season is usually held around midnight, the earliest possible time, to demonstrate our eagerness to seek forgiveness. The late night service is usually preceded by study on themes related to the High Holy Days.
What Can I Do?
Elul is a period of preparation, both
spiritual and practical. Some things you can do to make the most of Elul are:
* Allocate time during the month for personal reflection, meditation and prayer. Try and conduct a full Cheshbon HaNefesh - “accounting of the soul.”
* Approach others whom you may have hurt during the past year and seek their forgiveness. Our tradition teaches us that for sins between the individual and G-d, forgiveness is guaranteed, but for forgiveness between one individual and anther, we must actively seek their forgiveness.
* Hear the sounding of the Shofar every weekday morning.
* Say Psalm 27 every morning.
* Study the Makhzor and other works that will inspire you to repentance.
* Give Tzedakah.
* Visit the burial place of loved ones.
* Attend a Selichot service and say Selichot prayers.
* Have your Tallit cleaned; have your Tefillin and Mezzuzot checked; purchase new clothes to wear for the new year; stock up on honey for a sweet new year...
* Get Ready!
TEACHINGS ON YOM KIPPUR:
By James Vasquez
For marvelous things that he has done,
Now let the L-rd attend
New songs that from your voice arise,
And praise that ne’er shall end.
His right hand and his holy arm
Salvation’s bliss have wrought,
And knowledge of his righteousness
He widely has begot.
And to the house of Israel,
His faithfulness and love
This day he has remembered from
His glorious throne above.
Let all the earth now shout for joy,
Burst forth with jubilant song.
Your joyous music with the harp
And trumpet now prolong.
With blast of ram’s horn sound your praise
Before the L-rd, the King,
Till all have heard the vibrant, shrill
Let seas resound and all therein
With those throughout the world,
While mountains sing and rivers clap
With joyous hands unfurled.
Let all to him their voices lift
In songs of jubilee.
He comes in righteousness to judge
All men with equity.
Repentance and Yom Kippur
By Avi Lazerson
Yom Kippur is the day of divine forgiveness; the day that G-d
accepts our prayers that our sins be erased. The Talmud, tractate of Yoma,
teaches that there are three types of atonements and each one has its own
particular requirements concerning repentance. These are related to three
different types of transgressions. Let us clarify:
The first type of transgression is when a person willfully refrains himself from performing a positive mitzvah, a divine command in which G-d has told us to do something. Upon repenting for his (sin of) omission, the person is immediately forgiven and does not have to wait for Yom Kippur for any atonement.
The second type concerns the transgressing of a negative commandment, like: Thou Shall Not Do Something… When the person repents, his complete atonement is withheld from him until Yom Kippur and only then on this day can he achieve proper atonement.
The third type of atonement is one regarding the most serious sort of sin. It concerns a transgression in which the punishment is death, either by the heavenly courts or by rule of the earthly courts. In a sin such as this, repentance is withheld and even Yom Kippur cannot atone for it, rather it is only sufferings in this world that can relieve him from divine punishment in the next world.
* * *
Let us understand the difference between the types of transgressions and their requirements for atonement. A sin of omission, which is neglecting to perform a positive commandment, means that the person has missed the opportunity to bring G-dliness down into this physical world. Each time a positive mitzvah is performed, holiness is drawn down into the world. His need for atonement is due to his neglecting to sanctify the world when he had the opportunity. Since his sin of omission did not cause spiritual damage in the world, therefore when the person repents, he is forgiven immediately.
However when a person transgresses the will of G-d and violates a prohibition, he has rebelled against his Creator, and has caused a schism between himself and G-d. In addition, he has given the forces of Evil extra power to bring wickedness into the world. The evil has now become a part of him and the world as well; therefore he must do extra work to expel it from his soul and the world. This requires regret plus the atonement that is granted on Yom Kippur.
The third type of sin, that which is punished by death is one in which a very grievous evil was brought into the world. The terrible "blemish" on the person's soul is too great to be removed via repentance and atonement. In order for him to be purged of such a blemish to his soul, he must endure punishment in this world. Since our courts do not have the power to enforce the law of the Torah, his punishment will be through heavenly interaction in his life, causing him physical and mental anguish.
* * *
Now although the concept of repentance is the subject of many scholarly books and discussions, we must realize that repentance and fasting are two distinctly different concepts. During the time of the Temple, a person who sinned would bring an animal sacrifice and its blood and fats would be offered on the altar. Today we understand that we, by fasting, cause a reduction in our blood and fat. This is our way of offering ourselves as an offering to G-d.
The concept of repentance (in Hebrew: t'shuva) has unfortunately been made into a notion that only non religious people must do, but religious people do not need any repentance. Nothing could be further from the truth!
All of us, being that we are human, are guilty of transgressions. We must introspect to find the indiscretions and offences to G-d and then uproot it from our souls. The more we look into our hearts, our deeds and see the motives that brought them into being, the more we can see how we have become separated from our G-d.
Now although repentance is required, it is not the final step. We should go further. As an example, if a friend embarrassed you in public, you would be correct to expect an apology. If he were a decent sort, he would examine himself to see what it was that caused him to do such a nasty act and uproot it from his character. This is the minimum of repentance; we must admit to G-d our improprieties. Then we must request forgiveness from Him.
However, this does not mean that the relationship is back to where it was. You would be wary of a person who would publicly embarrass you. Your relationship with him would no longer be the same. Even if he apologized, and you forgave him, the relationship after the forgiveness would not be the same; you would be wary of him. Therefore it is incumbent upon this person to mend this relationship by showing you that he is now a person to be trusted. Bring a gift is one manner to elicit improvement of a ruined relationship.
We utilize Yom Kippur in the same manner. We should use this day to get even closer to G-d, for who is as great as He? We must dwell on His goodness as it manifests itself in our life.
Don't waste Yom Kippur merely listening to
the beautiful melodies of the various prayers; use this special day to get
closer to G-d who only desires our closeness. This is the day in which He awaits
our approach, but it is we that must take the initiative.
By Chaim Chain
The opening of the Yom Kippur services is highlighted by the special Kol Nidre prayer. This is one of the most holy, sacred prayers of the holidays and is chanted by the Chazzan (the prayer leader) three times. The first time he says it softly as a person afraid to speak, the second time with a normal voice, and the third time with a raised voice to emphasize the importance of its inherent statement. It is the prayer that all remember as the distinctive service of the day.
The Yom Kippur evening service begins first with the intonement of the blessing of "shehechiyanu" in which we thank G-d that we have reached this special time of year; special because G-d in his kindness has given us this day to have our sins forgiven. Before the Kol Nidre prayer, the Chazzan intones three verses that invoke the authority of the Heavenly court as well as the earthly court, together with the authority of G-d Himself, which permits us to pray with sinners.
These three lines were first inserted in the thirteenth century by Rabbi Meir of Rothenbug, one of the greatest rabbis of his time. It is based on the Talmudic statement that says that a public fast in which transgressors do not participate is not a proper fast, comparing it to the smell of galbanum, which is unpleasant, nevertheless is included among the fragrant spices for the incense offering. From this we learn that all public fast days should include those who have sinned – they are part of the Jewish people too.
The Kol Nidre prayer is basically written in Aramaic, the language of the majority of the people who lived in Babylonia. The prayer is well over a thousand years old. It refers to vows that an individual took upon himself and do not have any bearing on vows between other people. It relates both to personal vows of the past and to the future, that they should not be binding.
During the persecutions and inquisitions in Spain this prayer acquired a deep significance since hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to accept Christianity or face death, torture or both. By coming to the synagogue at the possible cost of their lives to hear this prayer, they publicly showed their renunciation of the forced conversions.
The words of the Kol Nidre are loosely
translated as follows: All personal vows that we are likely to make, all
prohibitions, oaths, pledges, restrictions, limitations, or other equivalent
expressions that we are like to vow, swear or proscribe for ourselves between
this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, which shall come to us for good, we
publicly renounce all of them. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null
and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and
oaths, be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.
How to Enter the Holy of Holies
By Naftali Silberberg
On Chanukah we light
the menorah and on Passover we eat matzah. But what is Yom Kippur all about?
Well, though there are a lot of don'ts associated with the holiest day of the
year -- eating, drinking, leather footwear, bathing, etc. -- Yom Kippur is most
associated with praying, long prayer services that occupy most of the hours of
Interestingly, prayer is barely mentioned in the Biblical instructions for Yom Kippur. Instead, the Torah devotes an entire chapter to the procedure of the Holy Temple service on Yom Kippur, a service that was unmatched on any other holiday in terms of length, arduousness and detail. The highlight of the Yom Kippur Temple service was the convergence of the holiest elements of time, space, and life form. On the holiest day of the year, the holiest person -- the High Priest -- entered the holiest place on earth, the Holy of Holy chamber in the Temple sanctuary, where he would pray on behalf of all his Jewish brethren and secure their atonement.
The goal of the Yom Kippur prayer service is
to access the Holy of Holies of this templeToday we have no Temple service, so
instead we pray. With our prayers we attempt to replicate, in spiritual terms,
the Holy Temple service, and hopefully thus to elicit the same result, the same
atonement, which was effected by the Temple service of yore.
Every Jewish person is a potential temple for G d, and every individual is the serving high priest in his or her personal temple. The goal of the Yom Kippur prayer service is to access the Holy of Holies of this temple.
The Holy of Holies housed the golden Ark
which contained the holy Tablets. The Tablets were unique in that the Ten
Commandments were etched into them, unlike a Torah Scroll whose words are
penned on its surface. G d's word was part of its very fabric, not an added
component which was appended to its being. To erase the words would be to
destroy the Tablets themselves.
Throughout the year we serve G d with our
"external," conscious, faculties. We connect with Him with our minds,
by attempting to comprehend Him and His messages. We work on creating a warm
and emotional relationship with Him through contemplating on His greatness and
His kindness towards us. But the human mind and heart are fickle at best --
they are add-on software, not the soul itself -- and the relationship that
results from their efforts is, therefore, akin to ink on parchment, subject to
fading and even erasure.
The innermost "chamber" of the Jewish soul, however, its Holy of Holies essence, shares a Tablet-like connection with G d. At our core we are connected to G d not by virtue of any effort, nor does the relationship require cultivation -- it is who we are, "a veritable part of G d Himself."
And on Yom Kippur we have the ability to
access this normally sub-conscious chamber. In doing so, we refresh our
relationship for the year to come, and we also have a reciprocal effect on G d.
He is reminded that His relationship with us is also part and parcel of who He
is. He can no more forsake us than we can forsake Him. And as such, no matter
the transgressions of the past year, G d grants His children atonement and
seals them in the Books of Life and Prosperity.
Throughout the year, the high priest was
bedecked in resplendent attire while performing his duties. The high priest's
vestments featured gold, an array of precious stones, and the finest materials.
When entering the Holy of Holies, however, the high priest was clad in simple,
pristine white linen garments. Not a touch of opulence or grandeur.
Let us not erroneously assume that we lack the qualifications, the magnificent deeds or impressive Torah knowledge, to enter the Holy of Holies this Yom Kippur. All that is needed is purity of heart and mind, a readiness to start anew.
(Editor -Excerpts from an article: Yom Teruah. The Name Elohim has been changed to G-d. Areas in blue have been highlighted for emphasis.)
Yom Teruah - Day
of The Awakening Blast!
The Historical Roots of Our Faith, Present Relevance for Believers & Prophetic End-Time Implications
By Ya’acov Natan Lawrence
Yom Teruah—The Beginning
of the Fall (End-Time) Harvest
Yom Teruah or The Day of The Awakening Blast (commonly called “Rosh Hashana”) occurs at the end of the summer months and marked the beginning of the fall harvest or festival season for the ancient Hebrews. Prophetically, the summer months between the spring feast of Shavuot/Weeks (Pentecost) and the fall feast of Yom Teruah is a spiritual picture of what is often called “Church Age,” which is the period of time from the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2 until the return of Yeshua the Messiah at the end of the age and lasting for approximately 2000 years. For many, especially those living in hotter climes, summer is a time of leisure, vacation, weariness and fatigue due to the excessive heat. Likewise, many Bible Believers have fallen asleep growing weary in waiting for the return of the Messiah. Yeshua discusses this issue in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25) who all grew weary and fell asleep awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Yeshua).
This all changes on the first day of the seventh month of the biblical Hebrew calendar when suddenly off in the distance the sound of the shofar piercing the atmosphere registers in the eardrums of those who have fallen asleep. Not only does the shofar blast signal the beginning of the seventh month when the new crescent moon is sighted, but it announces the return of the Bridegroom (Yeshua) coming for his bride (the virgin Saints). As in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the cry went forth that the bridegroom was coming and all awoke from their slumber to prepare for his arrival. In these end days, that cry is going forth even now for all to hear, to awake and to prepare for the arrival of Yeshua the Messiah.
In the biblical calendar, the visible sighting of the crescent new moon always marks the beginning of the month and is announced by the shofar blast (Ps. 81:3). Likewise, on the first day of the seventh month of the biblical calendar, the arrival of the new moon (called Rosh Chodesh) when the shofar sounds marks the beginning of Yom Teruah. This is the first day of the fall (festival) harvest season and is the time when the call goes out for the spiritual drowsy to awake, and to hear the voice of YHVH, to be invigorated by the breath or voice of the shofar, which is symbolic of YHVH’s prophetic word or oracle going forth across the earth in the last days. Furthermore, as the ram’s horn shofar is bent into a curved shape to represent the contrite heart of both the blower and the hearer, this is the season for the righteous to similarly bend their hearts in humility and contrition before YHVH and repent of spiritual lassitude and inaction and awake to action and preparation for the end-time prophetic fulfillment of the fall festivals. It is a time to be refreshed by the breath of YHVH, and a time of new beginnings. Let YHVH breathe on you, revive you and empower you as you enter into the fall biblical festival season, and as you prepare to meet your King and Redeemer, Yeshua, in the air.
Yom Teruah is also the time of the reaping of
the summer harvest. Spiritually speaking, this period will be the time of the
reaping of the righteous to their reward (Rev. 14:4) and the harvest of the
wicked to the great winepress of G-ds wrath (Rev. 14:14-20). It is the time of
the resurrection of the dead in Messiah Yeshua at the end of the tribulation
(Matt. 24:29) and the beginning of G-d's wrath being poured out upon the
nations (see Joel 3:11-13). This begins the Wrath of G-d time pictured by Yom
Kippur (the Day of Atonement, which occurs ten days after Yom Teruah) before
which time the dead Saints will have been resurrected and given their
spiritual, glorified, second Adam bodies.
The New Moon (Rosh
Chodesh) and Yom Teruah—A Day of New Beginnings and Expectancy
In anticipation of Rosh Chodesh (the new moon sighted each month) and hence the beginning of Yom Teruah, there is a sense of expectancy and excitement among the Saints. It is a time of watching and praying, for the renewal of the moon (the word new as in new moon [Col. 2:16] in the Greek New Testament is kainen meaning renewal or restoration of something which already exists and is not the word neos which means brand new), which represents new beginnings, good tidings, the renewal of the individual as well as the community.
The sixth month is traditionally referred to by its non-biblical Aramaic name Elul. Some rabbinical sources see this word as an acronym of “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” a quote from Song of Songs 6:3, where the Beloved is YHVH and the “I” is the are YHVH’s people. In Aramaic (the vernacular of the Jewish people at the time that the month names were adopted), the word Elul means “search,” which is appropriate, because this is a time of year when we search our hearts. (from the web site: http://www.jewfaq.org/elul. htm#Selichot).
During the month of Elul, our focus is to be on repentance, restoration and preparation for the coming of the Messiah. In order to repent one must understand that Scripture defines sins as the violation of YHVH’s Torah, or instructions or teachings in righteousness (1 John 3:4). Leah Lekarev characterizes sin this way from the Hebrew perspective:
Sin or "chet" in Hebrew, means a
failure in our relationship with G-d. Our goal should be to continually move
closer to G-d, but “chet” is behavior which causes us to move away from G-d.
If YHVH requires his people to turn away from sin and turn to righteousness (the act of which is called repentance), then what is therefore involved in repentance? Lekarev continues, Repentance or Teshuvah in Hebrew, means return. In this context, it means “Return to G-d” and to behavior required of us by G-d; in other words, return to obedience to his commandments. While we deeply regret our movement away from G-d, we must not despair, for YHVH has provided the way for our return to him and he tells us that when we repent, he forgives without delay. (from the web site: http://www.lekarev.org/Learning%20Center/Elul,%20A%20time%20to%20reflect.htm)
According to Scripture, there are, however,
several basic steps to repentance:
· We must confess our sin before YHVH (Lev. 5:5; Num. 5:7).
· We must turn from our sins and resolve to stop sinning.
· We must manifest heartfelt regret for our wrong actions by evidencing remorse and contrition before YHVH and our fellow man, if applicable.
· An offering of the legally prescribed sacrifice must be made for the sin (Lev. 5:1–20). Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, became that sacrifice for our sin once and for all when he died on the cross (Isa. 53:5; Heb. 4:14–5:10; 7:14–8:6; 9:11–10:22).
· When we have sinned against our fellow man, not only is confession and forsaking that sin required, but we must make restitution in full of whatever has been wrongfully obtained or withheld from one’s fellow man (Lev. 5:14–19; Matt. 5:23–25).
· We must then accept our Heavenly Father’s unconditional mercy and grace (Ps. 103:3–4,10–17).
The shofar’s blowing is a call to awaken out of spiritual sleep, lethargy, stagnation, slumber and to repent of sin. No man knows the day or the hour of the new moon’s arrival each month (though one who is alert certainly can know the season and year), so the human tendency is to grow weary in waiting, and to grow slack in one’s obedience to YHVH’s righteous commands. Yet when the new moon is sighted and the shofar sounds, this is the signal for the slumbering to awake, for hope to arise, renewal and spiritual revival to occur and action to be taken to put off sin and to draw closer spiritually to YHVH G-d.
The awakening sound of the shofar blast is
related to the word teruah (Strong’s G7321), which signifies to split the
ears by sound, to break, shout or sound an alarm for joy. Yom Teruah
literally means the day of the awakening blast. The idea is to wake YHVH’s
people up spiritually in preparation for the coming Messiah. It is time to take
stock of one’s life spiritually and to prepare, through repentance, self
examination and spiritual rejuvenation, for the coming day of judgment pictured
by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement which occurs ten days later.
Yom Teruah signifies a day of new beginnings or renewal, to wake up from lethargy and slumber, to be broken out of that sleepy, comfort zone state and to be awakened to action. Again, remember the ten virgins of Matthew 25 who slept in anticipation of the Bridegroom’s arrival? When the shout went forth that he was coming they were all awakened. Some were prepared to go into the marriage supper of the Bridegroom and some were not.
Teruah Versus Rosh Hashana
The biblical name for the fourth feast of YHVH’s seven annual feasts in the Hebrew (as found in Lev. 23:24) is Zikaron T’ruah Miqra Kodesh and is translated by various translators as a memorial of blowing of trumpets [shofars], an holy convocation (KJV); a signaled holy gathering (Jay P. Green rough translation); a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation (NAS); a memorable acclamation, a holy gathering (Jay P. Green smooth translation); a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar (CJB); and a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation (ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash/ASEC). In Numbers 29:1, we find the second and only other reference to Yom Teruah in the Torah where the Hebrew name for this day is Yom Teruah and is translated into English as a day of blowing the trumpets [shofars] (KJV and Jay P. Green smooth translation); a day for blowing trumpets [shofars] (NAS); a day of blowing the shofar (CJB); a day of shofar sounding (ASEC). Therefore, based on Numbers 29:1, the biblical name for the fourth feast is The Day of Trumpets or more literally, Yom Teruah, which is a direct translation from the original Hebrew.
Nowhere in Scripture is this festival referred to as Rosh Hashana, which literally means head of the year—a reference to the extra-biblical Jewish tradition that the first day of the
seventh month is the beginning of the New Year. Scripture is very clear about when the biblical new year begins. In Exodus 12:2, YHVH instructs the Children of Israel that the month of the abiv barley grain would be the beginning of the year for them. Fourteen days after the beginning of this month the Passover occurs. The beginning of the biblical year is in the early spring of the year when plant life is bursting forth from a long dead winter season. It is a picture of spiritual rebirth or redemption for YHVH’s people.
It is true that the Jewish rabbis recognize Abiv or Nissan in the spring as the first month of the biblical calendar and the beginning of civil or agricultural year for ancient Israel, now Judaism recognizes the first day of the seventh month (called Yom Teruah in the Bible or Rosh Hashana in modern Jewish tradition) as the beginning of the civil and religious year (Exploring Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Abraham Witty, p. 120; The Jewish Book of Why, by Rabbi Alfred Kolatch, pp. 222–223). In fact, the rabbinic Jews maintain the tradition that there are four new years (Kolatch, p. 223; Talmud Rosh Hashana 1:1):
first of Nissan/Abiv
for royalty (dating of royal events).
The first of Tishiri for agriculture (the beginning of the harvest season) and traditionally commemorating the creation.
The first of Elul for tithing cattle.
The first of Shevat as the New Years for trees.
This is the fourth festival of YHVH G-d and hence the fourth step in his plan of salvation. Yom Teruah occurs in the late summer or early fall season of the year. The spring feast days all relate to the work Yeshua accomplished on the earth at his first coming while the fall feast days (of which Yom Teruah is the first) picture the work he will do on earth prior to and after his second coming. This day pictures the beginning of the Great Tribulation period just prior to the return of Yeshua the Messiah. This festival also pictures the time when Messiah is calling his bride, born-again Believers, to ready themselves spiritually for the return of Yeshua, the Bridegroom. The call will go out for her to come out of the world, to fill her lamp with the oil of the Ruach HaKodesh and to put on robes of righteousness in preparation for the marriage supper of the Lamb. During the ten-day period between this appointed time and the next appointed time (Yom Kippur) is when the Great Tribulation occurs and when many will be saved out of this tribulation (the Great and Innumerable Multitude, Rev. 7:9). After the tribulation period, which terminates with the blowing of the seventh trumpet (in Hebraic thought called the Last Trumpet), the resurrection of the righteous dead and the catching away of the righteous living occurs (Rev. 11:14-18 and 12:10 with Matt. 24:29-31). This occurs before the Wrath of G-d (the Bowl Judgments of Rev. 15-16).
of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
The fifth of the seven festivals of YHVH occurs ten days after the Day of Trumpets. This day pictures when the end of the age (man’s 6000 years) will come to a completion. This period of grace will terminate. All who are saved will have been saved and removed from this earth as YHVH pours out his final judgment (called the Wrath of G-d and which is different than the Great Tribulation that occurred just prior to this) upon the wicked and godless rebels left upon the earth. This period will culminate with the Battle of Armageddon at which time Yeshua the Messiah will return to earth as the Conquering King to defeat his enemies, marry his bride—the righteous saints—and rule the earth with a rod of Iron for 1000 years. At this time Satan will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit.
The Feast of Tabernacles
or Booths (Sukkot or Succoth)
This festival represents the time period when the harvest of souls is completed (therefore, it is a harvest festival occurring at the beginning of the fall season when the agricultural harvest of the fruit of the earth is completed, as well) and a great feast occurs called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. King Yeshua will have put down all of his enemies (the Beast, the False Prophet, the Antichrist, Satan and all else who opposed YHVH G-d). This festival is a time of great rejoicing and merriment and is often referred to simply as “the Feast.” YHVH commanded his people to celebrate it for seven days. It is a picture of the 1000-year reign of King Yeshua on earth (called the Messianic Age or Millennium) from his headquarters in Jerusalem. This will be literally a time of paradise on earth.
The Eighth Day (Shemini
This is the seventh and final feast of YHVH and occurs the very next day after the last day of Sukkot. Eight is the biblical number of new beginnings and this day pictures what occurs after the Messianic Age and after man’s 7000 years on this earth. It is at this time that eternity in YHVH’s kingdom occurs. This is the time of the New Heaven and the New Earth; the time when New Jerusalem comes down from heaven. We find this time period described in Revelation 21 and 22. Scripture does not give many details about eternity, but just enough to whet our appetites and inspire our hopes to press onward to be overcomers with Yeshua so that we will be participants in his glorious and everlasting kingdom.
The Feast Days Were
Ordained At Creation
And G-d said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. (Gen. 1:14 ) Here we see the linking of the astrobodies with the sacred seasons and feast days of YHVH G-d. The word signs (owth, Strong’s H226) means a distinguishing mark, banner, a remembrance, a proof, an omen, a warning, a token, an ensign, a miracle. The heavenly bodies were created as signs or signals of something. The word seasons (moed, Strong’s H4150) means a congregation, feast, season, appointed time, assembly. What is being taught here is that the sun, moon and stars are signals which set the appointed times, sacred assemblies or feast days of YHVH for his people. In Leviticus 23:4, we see further proof of this point: “These are the feasts of YHVH, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons”. Please note the possessive pronoun their indicating that the feast days “own” or “possess” the seasons and thus predate the seasons which are determined by the astral bodies. In other words, YHVH created the heavenly bodies and seasons for the feast days which are a shadow-picture of his plan of salvation or redemption for the world. It could be said that the entire physical creation was made in order to have a place where in to implement and showcase YHVH’s glorious plan of salvation.
The Feast Days Are
And this day shall be unto you for a
memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to YHVH throughout your generations;
you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. (Exod. 12:14) It shall be a
statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings (see also
verses 21 and 31). (Lev. 23:14)
Forever (olam, Strong’s H5769 ) means everlasting, perpetual, evermore, always, continuous, unending future, for eternity. Is it possible that Yeshua had the created purpose of the heavenly bodies as well as this earth in mind as well as the eternal nature of the Feast Days contained in the Torah-law of YHVH when he addressed the permanent and inviolate nature of YHVH’s Torah-law, of which the feasts are a part, in Matthew 5:17-19, "Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
The Feast Days Were
Observed In the Renewed Covenant/Apostolic Period
18:21, “But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast
that comes in Jerusalem …” (one of the Pilgrimage Festivals; namely
Passover/Days of Unleavened Bread or Pentecost or Feast of Tabernacles)
Acts 20:6, Unleavened Bread
Acts 20:16, Pentecost
1 Corinthians 5:7-8, “Therefore let us keep [or celebrate] the feast [referring to Pesach and Hag Ha Matzot], not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Acts. 27:9, the Day of Atonement
Acts 21:24, “… you yourself also walk orderly, and keeps the Torah” (which includes observance of YHVH’s annual festivals).
Feast of YHVH to Be Observed In the Messianic Age (Millennium)
Zechariah 14:16,18,19, The Feast of Tabernacles
Ezekiel 45:17, The Sabbaths (plural, includes the weekly and annual Sabbaths or festivals) and solemnities (moedim) or appointed times (see also verse 9).
Ezekiel 45:21, Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread
Ezekiel 45:25, The Feast of Tabernacles
Ezekiel 46:1, The weekly Sabbath
Ezekiel 45:17 and 21, solemn or appointed times (moedim) and feasts (Strong’s H2282 ; chag meaning pilgrimage feast, festival, celebration, holy day, time of dancing, cyclical/yearly seasonal event; i.e., the feast days)
Yom Teruah (Day of Blowing Trumpets—Commonly Called Rosh Hashanah)
Very little is said in the Tanakh about Yom
Teruah. In fact, it is mentioned in only two places:
Leviticus 23:24, “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.”
Numbers 29:1, “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have an holy convocation; you shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.”
Yom Teruah is observed on the first day of the seventh month at the sighting of the first sliver of the crescent new moon (in Hebrew, called Rosh Chodesh). It is the first of the four fall festivals and it begins the fall harvest season in the land of Israel. Prophetically the fall set-apart festivals picture the time period leading up to the return of Yeshua, including the tribulation and wrath of G-d upon the earth, the resurrection of the Saints and the establishment of Yeshua’s Millennial kingdom on earth.
Specifically, Yom Teruah pictures the
beginning of the tribulation period followed by the resurrection of the
Although Scripture gives us but a paucity of details about this day, we are nonetheless able to extrapolate a great deal of information from elsewhere in Scripture to arrive at the following understandings.
On Yom Teruah, Moses brought down from Mount Sinai the second set of stone tablets containing the Ten Statements (“Commandments”) to replace the ones that had been broken earlier at the golden calf incident. After this, Israel remained faithful to YHVH and never again built and worshipped a golden calf until the time of King Jeroboam hundreds of years later. Similarly, on the day of Pentecost in the first century the Torah of YHVH was written into the hearts of the Messianic believers at that time by the “pen” of the Spirit of YHVH, yet well before the middle of the second century the church had begun to go apostate, had separated from its Hebraic and Torah-obedient roots, and was well on its way to becoming the Catholic Church that we know today with its many non-biblical and pagan-based traditions, many of which the Protestant churches have inherited.
When Yeshua returns on or near Yom Teruah at the end of the age, he will be ready to marry a bride that is without spot and wrinkle who has come out of the Babylonish religious whore system, which contain both truth and error (Rev. 18:4). This bride who will be wearing the robes of righteousness of Torah-obedience (Rev. 12:17; 14:12; 19:7-9) will be ready to receive and enter into a covenantal agreement—a wedding contract, which in the Hebrew is called a ketubah—with Yeshua, the Bridegroom—ever to remain faithful to him and never to stray into Baal/golden calf worship again. He will lead his wife, even as he lead in the pillar of fire the younger generation in the wilderness into the Promised Land of the Messianic Age or Millennium.
This is the main picture of the Yom Teruah.
The Two Silver Trumpets
and the Two Houses of Israel
As to the significance of the two
silver trumpets, Batya Wootten suggests, in her book, Israel’s Feasts and Their
Fullness, that the trumpets spiritually symbolize voices (Rev. 1:10; Isa.
She goes on to note that historically there have been two people groups on earth who have been testifying about the goodness of the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These are the Christians and the Jews—both of whom worship the same G-d as revealed in the Scriptures. Israel was called to be YHVH’s witnesses on earth (Isa. 43:10). YHVH then divided the twelve tribes of Israel into two nations or houses: the House of Judah and the House of Ephraim would be later represented by the Jews and the Christians, respectively.
According to Torah, truth must be confirmed in the mouth of two or more witnesses before it can be believed (Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1). Wootten says that these “two witnesses” have not been sounding their voices in unison, but instead have been fighting and denying one another. Yet the Apostle Paul states that there is to be one new man in Messiah Yeshua (Eph. 2:15) not two men—a Jewish and a Christian man. These two witnesses have to come together before Yeshua can return to this earth to establish his eternal kingdom here (Acts 1:6–8 cp. Acts 3:21).
The two silver trumpets, Wootten further notes, were hammered out of one piece of silver (Num. 10:2). Silver symbolizes refinement and redemption. Hammered trumpets tell of the Father molding us through affliction (Jer. 9:7; Dan. 11:35; Zec. 13:9; Hos. 1:10; Mal. 3:3) (ibid. pp. 219–228). Before the one new man can become the glorious bride of Yeshua, refinement, repentance and reunification must occur. This is happening now with YHVH’s people and will continue to happen until the return of Yeshua.
Additional Thoughts About Yom Teruah — The Day of the Memorial of the Blowing
The Breath of Life and Yom Teruah
Without the life-giving breath of YHVH we are dead both physically and spiritually. As YHVH breathed the breath of life into Adam who then became a living being (nephesh), so when Yeshua breathed on His disciples (John 20:22) they came alive spiritually. YHVH breathed on the first century Messianic believers through the wind of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Set-apart Spirit) on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:2 and the renewed covenant Messianic assembly was born. Similarly, on the day of Messiah’s second return (Yom Teruah), the shofar (called the Last Trumpet in Jewish thought, which comes just prior to the Final or Great Trumpet/Shofar HaGadol of Yom Kippur) will sound and the dead in Messiah will be resurrected. Again the breath of YHVH will revive, which is similar to the breath of YHVH blowing over the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37.
When Was the Shofar Blown In Ancient
The shofar is an instrument unique to the Jewish religion, or to those religions that trace their roots back to the Bible. In the Scriptures, we see that the shofar played a highly significant role in Hebraic culture. Below are some examples this instrument’s importance:
The shofar was blown to usher in Yom
Teruah. This was a call to Sabbath rest, a memorial of blowing trumpets,
a set-apart convocation and marked the beginning of a ten-day period of
self-examination and repentance culminating with the Day of Atonement (Num.
The shofar was blown to herald the Day of
Atonement (Yom Kippur) to announce the Year of Jubilee. Every fifty years
slaves were freed, debts were forgiven and land returned to the original owner
(Lev. 25:9-10 [verse 10 says, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all
its inhabitants” and is inscribed on the Liberty Bell.”)
continually by seven priests before the Ark of the Covenant, as part of
the battle plan to take the city of Jericho as the Israelites were
entering the Promised Land (Josh. 6:4-20).
Shofars were blown by Gideon to rally Israelites soldiers against the Midianites and again by his 300 soldiers in their battle against Midian (Jud. 6:34 and 7:8, 16, 20).
Shofars were blown to welcome the Ark of the Covenant (representing the anointed and glorious presence of YHVH among his people) while David danced with all his might (2 Sam. 6:15; I Chron. 15:14).
The shofar was blown when a king was anointed (1 Kgs. 1:34, 39, 41; 2 Kgs. 9:13).
The shofar was blown when the Israelites swore an oath of allegiance to YHVH (2 Chron. 15:14).
The shofar was blown to rally the troops (Neh. 4:18, 20).
The shofar was blown to announce YHVH’s presence and to praise and worship Him (Ps. 47:5, 98:6; 150:3; Isa. 18:3; 27:13; Rev. 1:10)
The shofar was blown to call people to repentance or fasting (Isa. 58:1; Hos. 8:1; Joel 2:1
The shofar was blown to sound the alarm of war (Jer. 4:19, 21; 6:1; 17; 51:27; Joel 2:1, 15).
The shofar was blown to sound the warning of danger (Amos 2:2; 3:6; Zeph. 1:16; Hos. 5:8, 8:1; Ezek. 33:2-9; Isa. 58:1). The sound of the shofar is compared to a prophet’s voice.
The shofar was blown by YHVH (Zech. 9:14).
The shofar was blown by the angels (Matt. 24:31; Rev. 8:2, 3; 9:1, 13-14; 10:7; 11:15).
The shofar was blown to announce the coming of a Jewish bridegroom to fetch his betrothed — a picture of Yeshua returning for his Bride, the Saints. All the righteous living and the righteous dead will receive glorified, resurrected bodies and will meet him in the air at the sound of the shofar. (Compare Matt. 24:31; 25:6; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16; Rev. 11:15-18).
When the righteous hear the sound of the shofar these things should be called to remembrance. The shofar is a powerful reminder of the powerful right arm of YHVH outstretched on behalf of his people. The sound of the shofar sends tremors of fear throughout the camp of the enemies of YHVH and his people and rallies the righteous to take courage and to rise up against evil knowing they will be victorious through faith in YHVH Elohim.
The Traditional Sounds
of the Shofar and Their Meanings
According to rabbinic Jewish tradition, it is customary to sound the four shofar calls on Yom Teruah. They are:
Tekiah: A pure, long and unbroken sound that calls man to search his heart, forsake his wrong ways, and seek forgiveness through repentance. “[Yom Teruah] is the day of appreciating who YHVH is. We then internalize that understanding so that it becomes a living, practical part of our everyday reality. [YHVH] is all-powerful. [YHVH] is the Creator. [YHVH] is the Sustainer. [YHVH] is the Supervisor. In short, [YHVH] is King of the Universe. The object of [Yom Teruah] is to crown [YHVH] as our King.
Tekiah—the long, straight shofar blast—is the sound of the King’s coronation. In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s first act was to proclaim [YHVH] as King. And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: [YHVH] is our King. We set our values straight and return to the reality of [YHVH] as the One Who runs the world … guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human being individually and personally” (http://www.aish.com/holidays/The_High_Holidays/articles/ Symbolism_of_the_Shofar.asp).
Shevarim: The Hebrew word shevar [Strong’s H7665] means to break [in pieces]). The shevarim shofar call is a broken, staccato, trembling sound. It typifies the sorrow that comes to man when he realizes his misconduct and desires to change his ways. This shofar blast consists of three medium wailing sounds varying from low to a high note not unlike some of our modern sirens. It symbolizes the sobbing cry heart of the broken and penitent person yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve. Every person has the ability to change and be great. This can be accomplished much faster than you ever dreamed of. The key is to pray from the bottom of your heart and ask YHVH for the ability to become great. Don’t let yourself be constrained by the past. You know you have enormous potential. At the moment the shofar is blown, we cry out to YHVH from the depths of our soul. This is the moment—when our souls stand before the Almighty without any barriers—that we can truly let go (from ).
Teruah (Strong’s H8643): This word is found in Numbers 10:5 and means alarm, signal, sound of tempest, shout or blast of war, battle cry, and alarm of joy. This shofar call was used to call Israel to arms against an enemy attacker. In Leviticus 25:9, we see that the shofar would make the teruah sound to signal the arrival of the jubilee year. This signal was not to be used when the congregation was gathered together to worship YHVH (Num. 10:7). There has been some debate among rabbinical authorities as to the exact sound of this shofar blast. The Talmud describes three possibilities (from http://www.torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5761/roshhashana.html):
Three short, straight blasts - what we
commonly refer to as shevarim;
Nine very short, staccato blasts - what we commonly refer to as teruah;
A combination of both of the above sound—a shevarim—teruah compound.
The teruah is a wailing, sighing or groaning sound (Rosh Hashana 34a)
“To satisfy all of the above opinions, the Rabbis established that the three sets of tekios be blown in three different ways, alternating the teruah sound in each set. Thus we blow tekiah shevarim-teruah tekiah (TaSHRaT) three times; tekiah shevarim tekiah (TaSHaT) three times; and tekiah teruah tekiah (TaRaT) three times. All together that adds up to thirty different blasts: eighteen tekios, three shevarim-teruahs, three shevarim and three teruahs. This is the minimum number of blasts that every adult male is required to hear on [Yom Teruah]. These are called tekios d’myushav, since the congregation is permitted to sit while they are being blown. In practice, however, it is almost universally accepted to stand during these tekios” (ibid.). According to some rabbinic authorities, the teruah can consist simply of nine quick blasts in short succession (http://www.aish.com/hhRosh/hhRoshDefault/Symbolism_of_the_Shofar.asp).
Tekiah Gedolah (Great Tekia): The
prolonged, unbroken tekia sound typifying a final appeal to sincere repentance
This last shofar blast blown on Yom Teruah is very likely that which Paul refers to as the “last trumpet (shofar)” in 1 Corinthians 15:52 signaling the resurrection of the righteous dead to meet Yeshua in the air at his second coming (see also 1 Thes. 4:16). If this understanding is correct, then this same shofar blast would correspond to the “great sound of the shofar” in Matthew 24:31 when Yeshua will send his angels to “gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This would also correspond to the seventh and final trumpet of the Seven Trumpets (shofars) of Revelation 8–11, the last of which announces the return of Yeshua and the resurrection of the righteous dead to meet Yeshua in the air (Rev. 11:15–18).
Yom Teruah and End Time Prophecy
Yom Teruah is on the first day of the seventh
month which corresponds to the seventh or last trump of 1 Corinthians 15:52 and
Revelation 11:15-18 as well as the shofar blast to which Yeshua refers in
Matthew 24:31. These three passages speak of the resurrection of the Saints and
their reunion with Yeshua in the air at his second coming at the end of the
Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21) just prior to the Wrath of G-d period (the
Seven Bowl Judgments of Rev. 15 and 16).
Matthew 24 is a blueprint which discusses, in chronological order, the Tribulation Period, the Great Tribulation and the resurrection of the Saints to meet Yeshua in the air after the Great Tribulation. The chronology of these events is apparent. Let’s analyze this in some detail.
In Matthew 24:3 the disciples ask Yeshua three questions. He then answers those questions in chronological order. These questions are in the context of verse two where Yeshua is prophesying about the destruction of the Temple and its buildings.
Question one is: “Tell us when
shall these things be?” (that is, the destruction of the Temple). Question two:
“What shall be the sign of your coming …?” Question three: “… and of the end of
Yeshua then proceeds to answer the questions one-by-one. The first question the disciples ask Yeshua is this: when shall these things be? From verses 4-20 he gives an overview of the last days (plural) starting with the era surrounding the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 until the present era. There are 2 days, or 2,000 years between the death of Messiah and the second coming and the entire time has been one of intense persecution and tribulation of Believers. Yeshua gives an overall perspective of that 2000 years and what the spiritual condition will be for his people with some general warnings and some prophecies as to what will happen. For example “the Gospel will be preached in all the world” which has not fully happened until the past century. It is doubtful that Yeshua’s prophesy concerning the abomination of desolation being placed in the Temple (verse 15) has occurred yet. This will probably occur after the third temple is built in Jerusalem just prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation mentioned in verse 21.
The second question the disciples ask
Yeshua is, “What shall be the sign of your coming?” This Yeshua answers from
verse 21-28. This is referred to as the Great Tribulation (or Megathlipsis)
Period (verse 21). The Saints will also go through this period as is clearly
stated in Revelation 2:22 and 7:14.
It is not until “immediately after the tribulation” that Yeshua makes any mention of the Saints being “caught away (Matt. 24:29). The tribulation is past and the events Yeshua describes next point to Yom Teruah or The Day of the Awakening Blast.
Verse 30 talks about the sign of the son of man appearing in heaven. This appears to be unique astronomical occurrences including a possible eclipse and a new moon (Rosh Chodesh) which corresponds with Yom Teruah as that is the only biblical feast day which occurs on the actual day of the new moon’s appearance on the first day of the seventh month of the biblical calendar.
Verse 31 shows that the angels at the sound of the great trumpet (another reference to Yom Teruah) will gather the elect from the four corners of the world where they have been scattered like lost sheep.
Verse 40 shows the fulfillment of Yom Teruah. In ancient Israel, when two witnesses had sighted the new moon (Rosh Chodesh) at the beginning of the month and the high priest was notified, a signal went out from the Temple and across the land that the new moon had been sighted and Yom Teruah had officially begun. Whatever anyone was doing, whether harvesting their wheat (for this was the fall harvest time) or whether they were grinding that wheat at the mill, all dropped what they were doing, ran back to their houses and began to celebrate Yom Teruah. Because no one knew the day or the hour when the new moon would be sighted, they never were quite certain when this day would begin, but they knew the season and the approximate time period when it would happen. As Yeshua said, “No man know the day or hour of my coming” but he didn’t say we wouldn’t know the season. We can know the season, for verses 32-39 indicates that.
Paul also says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5,
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Master so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
As when the signal went out from the high priest to the land of Israel signaling the beginning of Yom Teruah, likewise when Yom Teruah is actually fulfilled, the heavenly shofar will sound, the righteous dead will raise, and instead of running back to their homes to celebrate Yom Teruah, the Saints will be lifted heavenward to meet Yeshua in the air and will subsequently be delivered from the forthcoming Wrath of G-d which is about to be poured out upon this earth.
Now look at the book of Revelation to compare this with what Yeshua reveals about the Tribulation in Matthew 24. This book, for the most part goes in chronological order and coincides with Matthew 24. First the Seven Seals occur (Rev. 6:1-8:5) and then the Seven Trumpets sound (Rev. 8:6-11:19). It is open to debate as to whether any of these events have occurred. Whatever the case, Yeshua speaks of two parts of the Tribulation Period: the General Tribulation, which has been occurring since the first century, and the Great Tribulation (an intensified period of tribulation to befall the earth), which occurs just prior to Yeshua’s return. Whatever the case and the exact timing of the Tribulation events, one thing is certain: the Tribulation IS NOT the Wrath of G-d. Some may ask, “what about Revelation 6:16, where it seems to imply that the Wrath of G-d is occurring at the end of the Sixth Seal?” To the casual student of Scripture this may seem to be the case, but if one reads carefully what is being said here in its context starting in verse 15 one will see that this declaration is being made by men. It is the perception of kings and great men, etc., who are having to go through the Tribulation that this is the Wrath of G-d. This is what they are saying and is not a pronouncement of G-d or any of his heavenly messengers. Scripture does not refer to any period as the Wrath of G-d until the Saints of G-d are removed from the picture. This occurs after the sounding of the last trumpet in Chapter 11, verse 15, where the seventh angel, blowing the seventh trumpet (shofar) announces the coming of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Then in verse 18 it is recorded that the 24 elders in heaven declare that the nations were angry and “your [G-d's] wrath is come” and the time of the dead that they should be judged that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets and to the Saints and them that fear your name. Small and great and should destroy them that destroy the earth.”
Can we confirm this scenario from elsewhere in Scripture? Indeed we can. Yeshua states in Matthew 24:37, “For as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Noah was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years prior to the flood (Gen. 6:3). He no doubt endured the mockery and persecution of those who did not believe his message about a coming flood and the need for an ark of safety when that generation had experienced neither rain nor floods (Heb. 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5). In Genesis 7:4, YHVH allows Noah to experience seven more days of persecution before the rains of judgment come upon the earth after which YHVH shut Noah up in the ark of safety (7:16) after which the ark “was lifted above the earth” (7:17). What does Yeshua teach about the end times just prior to his second coming (Matt. 24:37-39)? Does Yeshua teach that his Saints will go through tribulation on this earth (Matt. 24:3-28)? Does Yeshua indicate that his people will even go through “great tribulation” (Greek: megathlipsis) (verse 21)? At what time will they be lifted up above the earth to meet him in the air: before or after the tribulation? Matthew 24:29-31 states that this will occur after the Tribulation. Scripture reveals that Noah endured another seven days (prophetically seven years) of tribulation before the Wrath of G-d was poured out upon the wicked inhabitants of the earth. Does this speak of a seven-year tribulation period the Saints will have to go through before the Wrath of G-d (which is different than the Tribulation Period) is poured out upon this earth (see Rev. 11:15-18 [compare with 1 Cor. 15:51-53] and chapters 15 and 16 where the Seven Last Plagues are called the Wrath of G-d)? I believe so. On the other hand, Scripture clearly teaches that YHVH’s people will not have to endure his wrath (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9), but conversely teaches that all will go through tribulation (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rev. 7:14). Scripturally, tribulation and wrath are two different words and concepts.
We clearly see that from the life of Noah there are three distinct periods of time that relate to the end-time Tribulation and Wrath of G-d Periods. The first period is the General Tribulation Period which for Noah lasted 120 years. Next the earth was given another seven days to repent before YHVH’s judgment of wrath was poured out upon the earth. This corresponds to the seven years of Great Tribulation coming upon men just prior to the “catching away of the Saints into their heavenly “ark of safety” with Yeshua. Afterwards occurs the Wrath of G-d against unrepentant humanity. Here it rained for 40 days (a time of judgment) and Noah and his family were “lifted up above the earth” (Gen. 7:17). This is the picture of the resurrection of the Saints after the Great Tribulation of seven years, but prior to the Wrath of G-d just as Yeshua foretells in Matthew 24 and John records in the book of Revelation. The truth of Scripture is always a straight line. Though these events were written hundreds of years apart, their prophetic truths line up perfectly revealing the divine inspiration and perfect syncretism of YHVH’s set-apart Word!
The Ten Days of Awe (the Time Between
the Day of Blowing Trumpets and Day of Atonement)
According to the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 6b; 16b-17a), Yom Teruah begins the time period of YHVH’s judgment of men. The books are opened that record men’s deeds, both good and bad. Scripture speaks of several books in which are recorded the deeds of men, one of which is the Book of Life (Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:7; 22:19; Ps. 69:28; Dan. 7:10; 12:1; Exod. 32:32; Ps. 56:8; 139:16; Mal. 3:16; Isa. 65:6; Luke 10:20). During this time period, the righteous are sealed and are granted eternal life in the world to come (Olam Haba) while the fate of the wicked is sealed—eternal death (in the Lake of Fire)—in the world to come. The intermediates will have until the end of the Wrath of G-d period to choose either the path of righteousness leading to eternal life or wickedness leading to eternal death. Peter also speaks of three categories of people: the righteous, the ungodly and sinners (1 Peter 4:18), which seems to fit the three classes of humans delineated in Jewish tradition.
What happens to the people in each of these three categories during the Tribulation period? We may not have all the answers to this question, but we will share what we understand to this point. Yeshua says in Matthew 24:29-31 that the resurrection of the righteous occurs after the Tribulation at the sound of the shofar blast, which is the last trumpet (shofar) blast of 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Furthermore, we believe that this last shofar blast corresponds to the shofar blast that announces the arrival of the seventh month of the biblical calendar, which always begins with a new moon (Rosh Chodesh). This first day of the seventh month is Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets or more literally, the Day of the Awakening Blast). This last trumpet in Jewish thought is to be distinguished from three other trumpet/shofar blasts, each of which occurs on various biblical Feast Days throughout the year: the First Shofar blast occurs on Pentecost (Feast of Weeks, Shavuot), the Last Shofar occurs on Yom Teruah while the Final or Great Shofar blast occurs on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) announcing the Jubilee.
We see then that the resurrection of the righteous occurs at the time of the Last Trumpet (shofar). This scenario fits perfectly with the chronology of the Book of Revelation where we find recorded the events surrounding the Tribulation period (the Seven Seals and Seven Trumpets [Rev. 5-11]).
At the end of the Seven Trumpets (shofarot) or Tribulation Period at the sounding of the “last trumpet” occurs the “rapture” of the righteous. This is the event where the righteous dead along with the righteous living are caught up to meet Yeshua in the air (Rev. 11:14-18). While the angel sounding the seventh trumpet (shofar) is announcing the return of Yeshua and the rewards of the righteous he is simultaneously announcing the coming of the Wrath of G-d period (verse 18)—a term which no heavenly messenger has yet applied to any of the events on earth to this point (this statement is made with Rev. 6:16 in view). Hereafter the Seven Bowl judgments (or Seven Last Plagues) are poured out upon the earth (Rev. 15-16) and are referred to in several places as the Wrath of G-d (Rev. 11:18; 14:8, 19; 15:1,7; 16:1,19).
It is important to note that Scripture linguistically delineates between the words tribulation (which is the Greek word thlipis) and wrath (orgey and thumos). These two words have very different meanings and applications. The Wrath of G-d is not called the Tribulation and vice versa. The righteous are not appointed to wrath (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9) and therefore will not go through the Wrath of G-d period. There is no indication from Scripture that they will be raptured before the end of the Tribulation Period. In fact, as noted earlier, Yeshua specifically states so in Matthew 24.
We mentioned above that according to Jewish tradition there are three categories of people and three books opened pertaining to these people: The Book of Life for the righteous, the Book of the Dead for the wicked and the intermediate book for those who are neither wholly wicked nor righteous. Do we see any indications of these three groups in Revelation during the Tribulation and Wrath periods?
The righteous (Saints) are mentioned several times during the Tribulation period (the Seven Seals and Seven Trumpets) (Rev. 6:11; 7:3; 9:14; 9:4; 11:13; 12:17; 13:7; 14:12) and of course, as noted above, the same Saints are raptured (or “harvested”) at the sound of the last shofar blast at the Seventh Trumpet (Rev. 11:15-18; 14:4-5; Matt. 24:31, 39-40).
The wicked are mentioned in numerous places in the Book of Revelation during the Tribulation and Wrath periods, but we will specifically note the judgment poured out against them in Revelation 14:14-20, which is the Wrath of G-d period.
What about the undecided—the intermediate people, those who are neither wholly wicked nor wholly righteous? Are they mentioned as being on earth during the Wrath of G-d period when the Seven Last Plagues or Bowl Judgments are poured out? In Revelation 16:2 grievous sores are poured out upon those who have taken the mark of the beast and who worship his image. By implication there appears to be a group of people alive on earth who have not taken the mark nor worship the image of the beast. These will not be afflicted with grievous sores. This may be reading between the lines, but logically, if all those alive on the earth were wholly wicked then what need would Scripture have of stating that the sores fell on those who had the mark and worshiped the image?
Additionally, Revelation 14:4 calls those who will be caught away or harvested (to meet Yeshua in the air) on Yom Teruah first fruits among those redeemed (or saved) among men. Clearly, this statement makes no sense if there are not more to be redeemed (saved) at a later time. This could refer to those who will have an opportunity during the Wrath of G-d period to be redeemed, as well as those Jews that, at the coming of Yeshua, will “look upon [Yeshua] whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son …” (Zech. 12:10).
The Historic and Prophetic
Implications of the Jewish Wedding As Pertaining to Yom Teruah
There are nine main steps in the biblical Jewish wedding if one includes the young couple falling in love with each other. If one omits the self-evident step of mutual attraction, that leaves us with eight significant aspects of the Hebrew wedding, which for the sake of this study we will focus on. Now when we study YHVH’s annual appointed times (or “feasts”), we see an interplay between the numbers seven and eight. The former number in Hebraic thought represents perfection or completion, while the latter number represents new beginnings or eternity. This we see in the feasts when we realize that there are seven annual high Sabbaths (i.e., first and last days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, the first day of Tabernacles, and the Eighth Day). At the same time, there are seven annual appointed times, which are the same as the above list, except we add Passover (which is not a Sabbath) and view Unleavened Bread as a single feast (or appointed time) although it technically contains two high day Sabbaths. The reason we make these distinctions (to be further explained below) is that in studying the Jewish wedding it is important to add Passover as a step in the wedding, as well as the first and last Sabbaths of Unleavened Bread.
In doing so, we technically have eight steps, although there are really only seven annual appointed times with Passover being the first one and Unleavened Bread being the second one and so on. This numbering system fits well within the biblical numbering system of seven representing completion or perfection as pertaining to the steps of redemption/salvation humanity must take from initial redemption all the way through to ultimate glorification. But eight also works as a significant number since the last of the seven festivals of YHVH is the Eighth Day, which, as we shall see later, represents the bride and groom living happily forever in a state of wedded bliss. This represents YHVH-Yeshua living with his glorified Saints in the New Jerusalem. This can be represented by the number eight since in consideration of the New Heaven and New Earth along with the New Jerusalem, and the Saints possessing glorified bodies for this spiritual existence called eternity, it truly is a new beginning. So in a sense, perfection and completion (represented by the number seven) give way to new spiritual beginning and eternity (represented by the number eight). As we shall see below, this spiritual picture is wonderfully represented in both the Hebrew wedding and in the annual appointed times or “feasts” of YHVH.
There are seven (or eight) stages of the Jewish or biblical wedding, which correspond with the seven feasts or appointed times of YHVH Elohim as listed in Leviticus 23. These seven stages, which also correspond with the stages in the Tabernacle (Mishkan) of Moses are:
1. Intent: The groom and bride see each other for the first time; interest is sparked. They begin to “fall” in love. YHVH fell in love with Israel choosing her to be the nation through which he would offer redemption to the world (Ezek. 16:4-14). This occurs outside the linen walls of the Tabernacle. Likewise, the potential bride/Believer is drawn to Yeshua the Savior and Redeemer when she hears the Gospel/ Good News of redemption (Isa. 52:7; Rom 10:15–17). This is represented by the four-colored door of the Tabernacle/Mishkan (picturing the four Gospels), which are the revelation of the Work, Word and Person of Yeshua who is the door to life and spiritual marriage.
2. Redemption: The Bride’s Price (dowry) is paid. The young man commits to lay down his life for the young maiden. This is the message of redemption of Yeshua at the cross. The death of the red heifer at the Altar of the Sacrifice of the Red Heifer speaks of this. This is a picture of Passover.
3. Acceptance: The cup of wine is drunk (called the Cup of Acceptance), which corresponds to the third cup of the Passover Seder (Cup of Redemption). The betrothal is legally established. At this point, the betrothed bride chooses to follow him (your G-d will be my G-d, your people my people, wherever you go I will follow, Ruth 1:16). Believers drink of this cup and eat the unleavened bread on the evening portion of Passover on the fifteenth day of the first month, which is on the first high Sabbath and first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Altar of Sacrifice inside the Tabernacle is a picture of this.
4. Set-Apartness: The bride takes a ritual cleansing bath (immersion or mikveh). Here the bride immerses herself to signify that she is ritually clean and totally set apart for her groom to the exclusion of all others. She not only has accepted the groom and the terms of the marriage agreement (or ketubah), i.e., the Torah and the four Gospels, which are the revelation of the Work, Word and Person of Yeshua, but chooses to identify with her bridegroom by conforming her life to the terms of the ketubah. Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks/Shavuot is a spiritual picture of this. This step is represented in the Tabernacle by the Bronze Laver where one is ritually purified (a picture of baptism for the remission of sins, Rom. 6:3-6) and washed in the water of the Word of G-d (Eph. 5:26), which is the Believer’s ketubah. The last high Sabbath or seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzot) pictures this, for it was then that Israel was immersed in the Red Sea and put leavening out of their homes (leavening is a picture of sin).
5. Separation and Consecration: Preparation of the Bride for the return of the Groom from his Father’s house. While the groom is away building their marital home (“mansion”) the betrothed bride walks out a set-apart or consecrated life. She keeps herself from any other lovers. She walks in the spiritual light of Torah-truth as led by the Spirit of G-d and in the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, which is evidence of her sanctified life. The Menorah pictures this step as does the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot). Others see the light of her righteousness, joy and peace and are drawn to it.
6. Preparation, Regathering and Reunion: Now betrothed, the Groom and bride separate for six months to a year for him to go to his father’s house to prepare a “mansion” for his bride. In the mean time, the Bride, while staying in her family home, puts on robes of righteousness, makes certain that her lamp is full of oil, stays awake through the night (while others sleep) waiting for the return of the groom. Spiritually, this is a picture of Yeshua leaving his betrothed bride after his resurrection, and preparing for her a spiritual inheritance. When he returns at the end of the age, he will reunite with her, and complete the wedding ceremony. The Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25 is a picture of this. Prior to the Bridegroom’s return the shofar and a shout is made announcing to the bride that the groom is on his way, and for her to be ready for his arrival. Spiritually, this is the call to Israel (Believers) to awake spiritually, to regather and to prepare to meet the Messiah, her Groom. Even now, a spiritual Elijah and John the Baptist call is going forth to wake up sleeping Believers to their Hebraic roots, and to turn their hearts back to the spiritual fathers of their faith as Malachi prophesied would occur just before Messiah’s return (Mal. 4:4–6). This is pictured in the Tabernacle by the Table of Showbread (Table of the Presence or Face of YHVH) upon which are twelve loaves of unleavened bread picturing the twelve tribes of Israel in a sin-free (righteous) state. This stage of the Hebrew wedding is pictured in The Day of the Awakening Blast/Yom Teruah).
7. The Return of the Wedding Party to the Bridegroom’s House: At this time the wedding party makes final preparations to return to the father’s house where the marriage feast will occur and married life will start. Also at this time Yeshua, the Groom, will judge and destroy all counterfeit or would-be persecutors of and contenders for his bride along with all would-be or false brides and religious systems. To mark this momentous event the Final or Great Jubilee Shofar will sound. The Altar of Incense and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) prophetically picture this event marking the end of what is called in Jewish thought “the Final Redemption.”
8. The Consummation of the Marriage and the Wedding Feast: The young couple returns to the father’s house where is the marriage “mansion” the young groom has constructed for his new bride. It is there that the marriage is consummated and the wedding feast occurs. The Holy of Holies (Kadosh haKadoshim) at the Ark of the Covenant is a picture of this as is the Feast of Tabernacles or simply, The Feast (Sukkot), which is a 1000-year long celebration referred to as the Millennium or Messianic Age.
9. Life Happily Ever After: The young couple starts married life. Yeshua and his bride will live together in the New Earth/New Jerusalem forever (the Olam Haba). The Eighth Day (Shemeni Atzeret), which is the seventh of YHVH’s seven annual feasts (Moedim), pictures this. The glory cloud (Shekinah) above the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacles is a picture of the glory of the New Jerusalem when heaven and earth unite and YHVH lives with his redeemed and glorified people (bride) forevermore. This is recorded in Revelation 21 and 22.
As we have seen above, Yom Teruah, though being the fourth festival of YHVH’s seven annual feasts, it is in reality the fifth step in the biblical Hebrew wedding allowing for the fact that the spring Feast of Unleavened Bread contains two high holy day Sabbaths each of which corresponds to a step in the Hebrew wedding. In the outline below, we will discuss in more detail this fourth festival or fifth step in the Hebrew wedding and give historical/ biblical examples of it as well as discuss the prophetic implications regarding eschatology (end time events). All this is a picture of the Believer in Yeshua as he strives to become the Bride of Yeshua by being in a perpetual state of spiritual readiness for the return of Yeshua, the Bridegroom.
for (Prior to) Yom Teruah—the Bride Was Consecrated or Set-Apart
Prior to the return of the Jewish bridegroom from his father’s house, the betrothed Israelite maiden kept herself in a continuous state of readiness, for she did not know at what day or hour he would arrive. When in public she wore a veil as a signal to other young men that she was betrothed to someone else and off limits to them. She would spend her time preparing her wedding garments for her upcoming wedding. Again this is a picture of born-again Believers coming out of the world and remaining holy (set-apart) awaiting the coming of Yeshua the righteous Bridegroom.
Here are some examples of this from the
Scriptures along with the spiritual fulfillment of this step:
A. Rebecca wore a veil (Gen. 24:65).
Yeshua is the veil for Believers:
10:20, “By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the
veil, that is to say, his flesh” [i.e., being covered by the blood of Yeshua].
1 John 1:7, The blood of Yeshua Messiah cleanses us from all sin Revelation 1:5, Yeshua washed us from sins in his own blood.
The Bride prepares her wedding garments:
1:18, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though
they be red like crimson, the shall become as wool.” By Yeshua’s blood we are
made righteous (cleansed from sin) and though our spiritual garments through
sin be scarlet, through Yeshua they are made white as wool. Here the blood of
Yeshua cleansing us is equated to putting on white robes of righteousness.
22:11-13, The proper wedding garments are a prerequisite to being invited to
the wedding feast. Many are called, but few are chosen.
7:14, “These are they which come out of great tribulation, and have washed
their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that we should be arrayed in fine linen, and clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the Saints.”
D. Believers are to maintain themselves in a chaste state as spiritually betrothed virgins: They are to be set apart from this world in a state of readiness for their coming Bridegroom, Yeshua.
Revelation 19:7-8, The Bride prepares herself: This is a reference to the time period called the 40 Days of Teshuvah, with special emphasis on the 30 days before Yom Teruah, when the bride examines her robes of righteousness for spots and wrinkles. If any are found this is the time for her to repent (teshuvah) and be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. The 12 unleavened loaves of bread on the Table of Showbread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, pictures the bride of Yeshua in a spiritually de-leavened or sin-free state.
17:11,14, They are to be in the world, though not of the world.
Revelation 18:4, She is to come out of the world (Babylon).
Corinthians 6:17, She is to come out of the world and be separate and touch not
any unclean thing so that Yeshua may receive us [to himself].
Corinthians 6:18-20, “We are the temple of the Set-apart Spirit [Ruach
HaKodesh] and we are not our own, for we have been bought with a price,
therefore flee [physical and spiritual] fornication [i.e., sex before marriage]
and sin, and be not joined to a harlot [do not commit spiritual adultery as
ancient Israel did].”
12:1, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice.”
15:19, Yeshua has chosen his bride out of this world.
John 17:14, His Bride is not of this world.
Matthew 25:1-13, The Parable of the Ten Virgins shows the importance of keeping oneself ready for the coming Bridegroom. There were ten virgins (the ten tribes of Israel), yet only half of them went into the marriage of the Lamb, though all were saved.
Teruah—the Actual Day
On Yom Teruah, the Israelite bridegroom would return from his father’s house, after having spent six months to a year building her a “mansion,” to fetch his betrothed bride. She had been awaiting her beloved’s return in her father’s house. The bridegroom would come for his bride accompanied by at least two friends, called the two witnesses. Here are some examples of this from the Scriptures along with the spiritual fulfillment of this step:
Moses: He acts as a friend of the bridegroom
(Exod. 19:17) when he leads Israel the bride out to meet YHVH her Groom.
Paul: He viewed himself as a friend of the Bridegroom (Yeshua) in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Messiah.”
Yeshua: He said he would return for his bride though no man would know the day or hour of his coming (Matt. 24:36; 25:13; Luke 12:46).
Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” This phraseology is actually a Hebrew poetic code word reference to the Yom Teruah.
Yeshua the Bridegroom would return with a shout and a sound of the shofar (Matt. 25:6; 1 Thes. 4:16; Rev. 11:15-18 and 12:10; Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52). Again, this occurs at on the Yom Teruah.
The Two Witnesses are mentioned in Revelation 11:1-12 just prior to the sounding of the Seventh Shofar blast (i.e., the Last Trumpet) in 11:14-17 where the angel announces the coming of the Messiah, the Bridegroom for his Saints (verse 18).
The Parable of the Ten Virgins In Matthew 25:1–13 (Please note the bolded portions, since they are of particular prophetic significance.)
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them, But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.”
John the Baptist: He was a friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29). See also Matt. 9:15. John came in the spirit of Elijah as attesting or witnessing to Messiah Yeshua.
As we have just shown you above,
prophetically Yom Teruah is a very significant festival of YHVH that is rich in
meaning for Believers in Yeshua the Messiah.
Some Christians have been taught that Yeshua came to fulfill or nullify the Torah (or law of YHVH) as pertaining to the Believer, and that the feasts of YHVH being part of the Torah are no longer relevant to Christian Believers, but have passed away as mere shadows of things to come. These interpretations are based on a faulty exegesis of Scripture and on a lack of understanding of the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith, the relevance of Torah for the Believer and on basic antisemitic theological predispositions on the part of many Christian Bible teachers and scholars. We, on the other hand, strongly beg to differ with the viewpoint of Yom Teruah’s irrelevance and abrogation. Yom Teruah clearly speaks of end-time events that are yet to occur. It also speaks of a time when Believers in Yeshua must prepare themselves for his return. This day has neither been fulfilled (done away with) nor is irrelevant to the modern Believer.
We, therefore, encourage you to
celebrate this day and take to heart the full ramifications of its spiritual
and prophetic implications. If you consider yourself to be the bride of Yeshua,
then you will want to let the message of Yom Teruah sink deeply into your heart
and adjust your life accordingly.
(Editor -Excerpts from an article: Yom Kippur. The Name Elohim has been changed to G-d. Areas in blue have been highlighted for emphasis.)
By Ya’acov Natan Lawrence
Yom Kippur is a day of contradictions and contrasts: Joy and sorrow. Rewards for the righteous and judgmentsfor the wicked rebels. Joy for the righteous when Satan and his demons, death and Babylon are destroyed by the King of Kings.
On this day the High Priest of ancient Israel went into the Holy of Holies. There he sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat (Kapporet) and the ground seven times. Atonement was made for the high priest himself, his family as well as for all Israel. On this day the Sanctuary/Tabernacle/Temple, the priesthood and the whole body of Believers (Body of Messiah) was cleansed. It represented corporate or community cleansing and entering into a deeper and more intimate relationship with YHVH.
The Passover and Day of Atonement are related though different:
Pesach (Passover) is the time of the sacrifice or atonement for personal sin—initial repentance from sins committed before being born again.
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is the time of
the atonement or covering of the individual’s as well as the corporate sins of
Israel committed in ignorance (Heb. 9:27) during the past year. On-going
repentance is needed by Believers and the community of Believers to stay in
right-standing (righteousness) before YHVH (1 John 1:9).
It is important to note the central significance of the shedding of innocent blood for the remission of sins is a central theme to both the Passover and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) events. The question may rightly be asked, if one is saved by the blood of the Lamb (Yeshua) when he was sacrificed at Passover (a picture of Yeshua
on the cross) what need is there of further shedding of blood for the remission of our sins on Atonement? After all, Yeshua died once and for all (as the writer of Hebrews notes in 10:10) and why does the redeemed Believer need to revisit the idea of atonement and blood sacrifice all over again at Yom Kippur?
When speaking of Yeshua sanctifying or making the unsaved sinner righteous through the offering of his body once and for all at the time of one’s conversion (Heb. 10:10), the writer of Hebrews is speaking of Passover, which is symbolized by the Red Heifer altar that is outside the door of the Tabernacle (Heb. 13:10–13). This altar points to the cross upon which Yeshua shed his blood, and that one must first come to in order to enter into the Tabernacle (be redeemed or saved). However, just because one has entered the Tabernacle by the blood of the lamb and has had their past sins washed away and has entered into right relationship with YHVH G-d, this does not mean the newly redeemed Believer stops at this point in their spiritual journey growing in intimacy with their Creator. From the Outer Court of the Tabernacle one is invited to enter into the Holy Place and eventually into the inner most part of the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies where the very Presence of YHVH abides.
The writer of Hebrews encourages Believers not just to stay in the Outer Courtyard where they have entered by the blood of the Lamb, but to boldly enter into the holiest place by the blood of Yeshua as well (Heb. 10:19).
Let us note what the author writes in this
- Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood
20 - By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 - And having an high priest over the house of G-d;
22 - Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 - Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 - And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 - Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
What we learn from this is that not only do
we enter the Tabernacle (our redemption or salvation) by the blood of the Lamb
by having our past sins atoned for, but we continue onward into the deepest
place of intimacy and relationship with our Heavenly Father by the blood of the
same Lamb, as well. Staying in fellowship with fellow
Believers and pursuing good works is essential to this process.
The Meaning of the Word Kippur
The word Kippur (Strong’s G3725) is a form of the Hebrew root word kapar (Strong’s G3722), which according to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT 1023) means to make an atonement, make reconciliation, purge). The mercy seat—the golden “lid” covering the Ark of the Covenant located in the D’veer (i.e., the inner shrine of the Tabernacle of Moses)—is the Hebrew word kapporet (Strong’s G3727, TWOT 1023c) and was the place of atonement or the place where atonement was made. The TWOT defines what happened at the kapporet as follows:
“It was from the … Mercy Seat that [YHVH] promised to meet with the men [of Israel] (Num. 7:89). The word, however, is not related to mercy and of course was not a seat. The word is derived from the root ‘to atone.’ The Greek equivalent in the LXX is usually hilasterion, “place or object of propitiation,” a word which is applied to [Messiah] in Rom. 3:25. The translation ‘mercy seat’ does not sufficiently express the fact that the lid of the ark was the place where the blood was sprinkled on the day of atonement. ‘Place of atonement’ would perhaps be more expressive.”
Yeshua Our High Priest & Yom Kippur
Parallels Between the Work of the High Priest and Yeshua Our High Priest. Yeshua is our High Priest to whom the work of the High Priest in
ancient Israel pointed (Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14;
9:11). The High Priest was covered in blood when performing the sin offering
sacrifices (Lev. 6:27). Yeshua was
covered in blood when he sacrificed himself as a sin offering upon the cross (Isa. 52:13-14). The High Priest sprinkled the Mercy Seat with blood from the sin offering (Lev. 16:14). Yeshua sprinkled many nations with his blood (Isa. 52:15). After performing the sacrifice the High Priest would wash himself and put on white linen garments
(Lev. 16:23). Though Yeshua’s garments were stained with blood, afterwards he was seen wearing pure white robes of righteousness (Rev. 3:4-5; 7:9,13-14).
The Importance of Blood In the
The writer of Hebrews (Heb. 9:11ff) describes the importance of blood in Tabernacle/Temple ceremonies of ancient Israel, how it relates to the remission of sins and how it pointed to Yeshua’s shedding of his blood on the cross for the atoning of man’s sins:
- But Messiah being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater
and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this
12 - Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13 - For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 - How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to G-d, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living G-d?
15 - And for this cause he is the mediator of the Renewed Covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
18 - Whereupon neither the first covenant was dedicated without blood.
19 - For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the Torah law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
20 - Saying, This is the blood of the covenant which YHVH hath enjoined unto you.
21 - Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
22 - And almost all things are by the Torah-law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
23 - It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 - For Messiah is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of G-d for us:
25 - Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year [on Yom Kippur] with blood of others;
26 - For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 - And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28 - So Messiah was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Why Do We Fast On Yom Kippur?
It is a day to afflict our souls or literally to humble ourselves. The purpose of fasting is not to torture or punish ourselves for the sins that we have committed during the past year. Rather, fasting helps us to transcend our physical natures and focus without distraction upon YHVH.
The Jubilee Year Starts and Ends On
The Jubilee Year started on Yom Kippur. All
slaves were set free, debts were forgiven, and the land was returned to its
original owners (Lev. 25:8-9).
The Two Goats of Levitcus 16 YHVH’s goat (offered by the High Priest as a sin offering) represents Yeshua’s sacrificial atonement for our sins.
The Azazel Goat is the scape goat or goat of departure. Spiritually this represents the entire removal of sin’s defilement from the Tabernacle and camp of Israel out into the wilderness. (Ps. 103:12—YHVH removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.) The Azazel goat is not Satan. Lev. 16:10 says that this goat “makes atonement for our sin.” It is blasphemy to say that Satan makes atonement for our sin. Only Yeshua did this, not Satan!
The Azazel Goat Of Leviticus 16
Soncino Pentateuch says of the Azazel Goat of Leviticus 16:10 that the word scapegoat, as used in the KJV, is a poor translation and should be rendered as dismissal. In the Septuagint it is translated as the one to be sent away, which agrees with the term used in the Mishnah. Azazel is not a proper name, but a rare Hebrew noun (ayin, zayin, lamed, zayin, lamed contracted to ayin, zayin, aleph, zayin, lamed) meaning dismissal, or entire removal. It is the technical term for the entire removal of sin and guilt of the community, that was symbolized by the sending away of the goat into the wilderness.
There is some difference of opinion as to the symbolic meaning of the Azazel Goat. Some say it is a picture of Satan who initially tempted man to sin or rebel against G-d, and has been doing so ever since. Since he was the first sinner and rebel against G-d and has constantly incited man in this sin and rebellion ever since, he must consequently bear the responsibility for his actions, which he will do when he is bound and thrown into the bottomless pit at the beginning of the millennium. The Azazel Goat being dismissed into the wilderness is a picture of this. On the other side, there are those who teach that the Azazel Goat is a picture of Yeshua who bore our sins upon himself and died alone in our place. Which view is correct? Well, both. Sort of...
The most important key to determining who
this goat represents is found in Leviticus 16:10: But the goat, on which the
lot fell for Azazel, shall be set alive before YHVH, to make atonement over
him, to send him away for Azazel into the wilderness. Note the italicized
portion. Who made atonement for our sins? Satan or Yeshua?
Scripture does not reveal the devil as the redeemer of mankind. Only Yeshua was our atonement as Scripture reveals:
And not only so, but we also joy in G-d through our Master Yeshua the Messiah, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Rom. 5:11) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Heb. 1:3) Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. (Heb. 7:27) For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb. 9:26) Furthermore, the act of laying on of hands (Lev. 16:21) onto the Azazel Goat symbolizes the transference of sins from the guilty party (the children of Israel) to the innocent Azazel Goat. The innocent becomes the sin-bearer.
Of course, who can deny that this is a perfect picture of Yeshua and not Satan! Spiritually, the Azazel Goat represents the entire removal of sin’s defilement from the camp of Israel into the wilderness. In Psalms 103:12 G-d removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. YHVH does this, not Satan! In Leviticus 16:22 we read, “And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” Throughout Scripture there are numerous references to Yeshua bearing our sins. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and YHVH hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:6) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isa. 53:12) So Messiah was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Heb. 9:28) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Pet. 2:24) I believe that the Azazel Goat has a secondary meaning, as well. Though it doesn’t outrightly represent Satan, but Yeshua, we will see that our Savior, blessed be he, while hanging on the cross represented sin in its totality and in its extreme, and so for a brief moment took on the image of the serpent himself. Yeshua said of himself in John 3:14: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” In Scripture, the serpent is a picture of Satan, the adversary (Gen. 3:1,2,4,13,14, 15: Rev. 12:9; 20:2).
In Leviticus 16:8 we see that as the two goats stood before the High Priest, one on his right hand and one on his left, the lots would be cast and one would become the Azazel Goat and one would be the goat that would be sacrificed in the Tabernacle Sanctuary itself. An interesting note that may have a bearing here: Hebraically, the right hand is the hand of strength, power and judgment, while the left land is the hand of mercy and grace. Both Adam Clarke and Matthew Henry in their commentaries say that both goats refer to a different aspect of Yeshua’s atonement. Henry says, “Thus [Yeshua] was prefigured by the two goats, which both made one offering: the slain goat was a type of [Messiah] dying for our sins, the scapegoat a type of [Messiah] rising again for our justification... [after which] the entrance into heaven which [Messiah] made for us is here typified by the high priest’s entrance into the most holy place (Heb. 9:7)” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary On the Whole Bible, Vol. 1, p. 509). Henry doesn’t explain just how the goat going into the wilderness typifies Yeshua’s redeeming us, but I should like to offer an alternative idea in this regard. Perhaps, the Azazel Goat represented Yeshua’s soul descending into hell and there taking the keys of death (1 Pet. 3:18-20; Rev. 1:18).
Yom Kippur & the Great &
Terrible Day of YHVH
Yom Kippur is the day when: YHVH’s judgment upon the earth will occur prior to the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah culminating in the battle at Megiddo. The beast and false prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire Satan will be judged and cast into the bottomless pit. It is the time when YHVH will have the last word on man’s 6000 (rebellious and sinful) years on earth. Rewards and punishments are meted out to humans. The Babylon the Great system is judged and destroyed. The earth is cleansed and readied for Messiah to “touch down” upon the Mount of Olives. The restitution of all things talked about in Acts 3:21 occurs. All these things must occur before Yeshua the Messiah can bring peace to this earth and establish his world-ruling kingdom. Those who would oppose his sovereign rule must be eliminated. Righteousness will prevail.
The Harvest of the Wicked & the
The Fall Harvest: This time period lasts from Yom Teruah to Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) (lasting 15 days). Rev. 14 speaks of two end time “harvests” of which the fall festivals are a shadow picture:
Harvest of saints to their reward - Rev. 14:4-5 (and Mt.
24:30-31) and Mt. 25:31-46 (the sheep and goats judgment pictures both groups).
Harvest of wicked to their reward - Rev. 14:15-20 There is no mention of the Saints during the Seven Bowls Wrath of YHVH. They’ve already been “harvested”
and are gathered into YHVH’s “barn” for safekeeping. The Seventh Bowl Judgment is poured out on the Babylonian (Rev. 18:23; 19:2) anti-YHVH system—the
deceiver and corrupter of the world from the very beginning at the Tree of Knowledge.
Editor: For additional study material on the Feast of Yom Teruah/Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, please refer to our Newsletters of 2008 which can be accessed at: http://biblesearchers.com/hebrews/JerusalemCalling/Master2008.shtml
PEACE AND BLESSINGS
Compiling editor: Agatha van der Merwe
Content control: OvadYah Avrahami
Participating editors: Dr Robert Mock, Geoffrey Messervy-Norman, Stephen Spykerman