Jewish Festivals

Rosh Hashanah and the customs that accompany the festival are important for Jews because of many reasons. Rosh Hashanah is a time for men and women to review their deeds of the year and analyse what exactly they’ve done bad. It is the ‘anniversary’ of the creation of Man and is the chance to look over the year, just as people do in many occupations to see how the year has been.

It is particularly important for Jews as it’s a time to rid of their sins and receive forgiveness from God. Jews blow the shofar in order to help assemble all the acts they need forgiveness for. The first note blown is tekia which means gathering. It gathers all the actions of the year. This is followed by a teruah (disbanding) which then breaks the actions down into much smaller pieces. The two notes are followed by yet another tekia to gather the good actions in which we want to keep. Rosh Hashanah is the only time Man can do this.

Blowing the shofar also has other purposes that are important. We are walking, for no purpose, down life’s road but the loud notes of the shofar wake us up in life. We can then continue doing well in life. Also, the shofar is asking God for mercy judgement so that we aren’t judged too harshly. Abraham was told to kill his only son to show his faith to God, but as Abraham was about to do it, God told him not to and instead kill a ram in the bushes nearby. This is why we blow a ram’s horn (the shofar), as it represents mercy.

On Rosh Hashanah, many Jews make there way to a source of running water. In the book of Zohar, it says whatever falls deep is lost forever, so Jews go to the water and say a prayer to throw their sins and bad actions away.

Another custom on Rosh Hashanah is to eat meals with honey, usually apple and honey or chollah and honey. This is important for Jews because it is a way of asking for a sweet new year (because honey is sweet). Also, Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew is Yom Teruah. Ruah means friendship, and so Rosh Hashanah is important for Jews as it is a time to make a friendship with God.

Yom Kippur might affect the life and beliefs of a Jew in a few ways. Yom Kippur is the chance for Jews to start a new beginning. If a Jew had done something in which they regret, or had sinned and couldn’t forgive themselves for it, Yom Kippur is formal forgiveness from God.

Jews beliefs may be affected by Yom Kippur by learning a lesson that God indirectly shows. God knows that without forgiveness, the world could not exist and run smoothly. That’s why he created the festival of Yom Kippur. Seeing God implement such a lesson teaches Jews that we must learn to forgive, and that every relationship, including ours with God, must involve forgiveness.

Yom Kippur could make a Jew hopeful as it shows God is there for them, and so may increase the life quality of a Jew. God acts as our father. Even if we have committed normally unforgivable sins (such as murder), God is prepared to pick us up and put us back on our feet if we repent. Knowing things turn from bad to better after Yom Kippur could also make a Jew believe more in God and then be more faithful.

On Yom Kippur, Jews are forbidden from doing certain things. They’re not allowed to eat, wear leather shoes, wash, wear perfume or have sexual relations. Each thing reminds Jews that they’re not supposed to do certain things, such as eating trefah food, and wearing immodest clothing. This reminder lasts the year until they remind themselves again the next year. This helps Jews so that they don’t sin and hence will improve their life. When we fast, we become like angels because they don’t eat. A Jew will become more spiritual if they fast, as they give in their physical body for spirituality.

The day is the happiest day of the year because we’re being given forgiveness. The day is supposed to be thoroughly enjoyed and it will often bring families and communities together. This bond of families and friends will make a Jew’s life happier altogether.

Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Judaism in your answer.

I agree with this statement. Everyone in the world needs time to review in order to analyse what they’re doing and then stop the bad doings that they’re partaking in, and improve on the good deeds and actions they have been doing. We should be striving to be perfect, as God would like the world to be, and so removing the bad deeds we’re doing helps work towards this annual target.

If Jews were to review their life every day, or at shorter periods rather than annually, they would lose site of the main target as it becomes a chore to meet them. Setting too many targets and reviewing ourselves constantly would be unmanageable and Jews wouldn’t stick to it. Reviewing once a year enables us to concentrate on being our best.

On the other hand, some may say we shouldn’t spend a day thinking about what we’ve done wrong. Some think that the past is the past and we should live for the future. Also, they believe reviewing what we do in a bad way will only demoralise and dishearten us instead of making us improve and rid of them. Therefore, we shouldn’t review ourselves at all. In comparison, some think we should review ourselves everyday in order to uphold a life full of good happenings.

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