First published: September 7, 2018
Days of Awe
Depending on which calendar(s) you may use, whether print or digital, perhaps you’ve noticed a day coming up next Monday, September 10th called Rosh Hashanah. (I use a combination of Apple and Google Calendar, by the way, which I don’t know how I would survive without!) It’s kind of like one of those days like ‘Canadian Flag Day’ that occasionally pops up that we tend to ignore. Rosh Hashanah is Hebrew for “head of” or “beginning of the year,” and is an annual Jewish holiday that usually occurs sometime around the beginning of September. Although the origins of this particular date are debated, its roots seem to be traced back as far as the Babylonian Exile in the 6th century B.C.E. Rosh Hashanah is a day of celebration that inaugurates the start of the Jewish New Year.
Again, assuming you have a calendar that reflects these dates, you’ll also notice another day 9 days following on September 19th called Yom Kipper,Hebrew for “Day of Atonement,” which is considered to be the most sacred day of the year in the Jewish tradition. Although Rash Hashanah is not mentioned, nor specifically commanded in the Scriptures, we are given extensive details concerning Yom Kipper in Leviticus 16.
One more detail, and then I’ll explain where all this is going. You probably won’t see this on your calendar, but Rosh Hashanah also inaugurates a 10-day period known as Yamim Noraim, which in the Hebrew means “Days of Awe,”concluding with Yom Kipper. Not only was/is this period of time essential for the preparation for the most sacred day of the year (Yom Kipper), it has also traditionally been a time to celebrate God’s creation, and is often viewed as the anniversary of when God created all things as described in Genesis 1.
In general, Yamim Noraim (the Days of Awe) was and has since been a day of reflection on God’s creative power and authority, and the hope His people have been given in new beginnings, which is at the very heart of the Gospel that lies at the essence of our existence as a church.