Rosh Hashanah observances were instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. While there is no talk of honey and apples, the sounding of the shofar is a clearly stated custom. What newer Rosh Hashanah traditions of Yom Ha-Zikkaron bring mankind and creator closer?
Sephardic Seder Traditions of Rosh Hashanah
Chabad offers insight into the Rosh Hashanah Seder traditions of Sephardic Jews. Each dish at the Seder represents a Hebrew word or phrase that is closely related to other words a well-wisher may use to signify the meaning of the day. For example, the noun “date” is close to the verb “to end.” Not surprisingly, dates find entrance into the Seder traditions of an ending year.
The Nitei Gavriel Tradition of the New Knife
Another one of the Rosh Hashanah customs that some families practice is the purchase of a new kitchen knife. Chabad’s researcher traced this custom back to Nitei Gavriel. At its source, the action is once again rooted in word-derived symbolism. The belief outlines that buying a sharp new knife in honor of Rosh Hashanah positively influences the buyer’s livelihood in relation to the creator-appointed angel in charge of prosperity.
Rosh Hashanah Carrots
The Orthodox Union explains that carrots have an association with the concept of (numerical) increase. It stands to reason that Rosh Hashanah traditions would include carrots in dishes or eaten raw, simply to symbolize the desire for this year to have “more” of something. It could be something as mundane as more money or something as spiritually-minded as more charity, more patience, more compassion, more prayer time and more religious training.
With all these sweets on the table, it would only make sense to include some nuts. That being said, nuts are out and Rosh Hashanah customs – as outlined by the Jewish Magazine – look to the word’s numerical value as the reason. In the Hebrew language, “nut” and “sin” have an identical value, which pretty much bans the delectable treats from the table on this holy day.
What about the Shofar?
Sounding shofars are customs of Rosh Hashanah that go back to the book of Leviticus. Yet why would the creator so specifically outline this practice? The Jewish Magazine points out that the shofar is little more than the hollow horn of a ram. A ram is the sacrifice the creator provided to Abraham, when the latter prepared to surrender Isaac on the altar. Symbolically speaking, a ram’s horn is a reminder to be willing to live a life of sacrifice to (for and because of) the creator.