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The High Holy Days

Rosh Hashanah This is the new year and is celebrates the birthday of the world, and more specifically the birthday of the first 2 spiritual beings, Adam and Hava (Eve). According to the Jewish  calender, this will be the year 5759 since the end of creation.  That is a lot of candles!  Of  course, we don't actually celebrate with candles on a cake.  Instead, we have a large family  meal with apples, challah, and honey.  Sometimes we also have honey cake.  We want the  year to be sweet.  We also spend a great deal of time during the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah  in the synagogue, the Jewish house of worship, praying as a community.  Rosh Hashanah is also known as Yom HaDin or the Day of Judgement.  The shofar (rams horn) is  blown, calling us to repent and improve our behavior towards both G-d and fellow humans.  The whole month before Rosh Hashanah is spent in self evaluation and making amends to  anyone we wronged.  Quite a difference from the way the secular new year is celebrated,  is it not?

Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonment, is when the figurative book of life is closed. It comes 10 days after Rosh  Hashanah.  G-d's judement of us for the past year is complete.  We spend the whole day from sundown to sundown (the Jewish day begins at sundown) fasting and praying.  We wear no animal skins, as it is deemed inappropriate for the day.  Some dress in all white.  Again, the shofar is blown.  Though we fast, Yom Kippur is considered to be a day of joy, the judgement for the year is complete, the book is sealed, and most of all, we have a fresh start having apologized to and making amends for anything we have done to another.  This means if, for example, one said angry words to someone an apology and fence mending has been done by the time of Rosh Hashanah.  And it is not just words that we must fix between our fellow humans.  If we did any wrong against another, it should be fixed before Rosh Hashanah.  On Yom Kippur, we atone for chet (missing the mark) in our relationship with G-d...and of course, that includes chet against our fellow humans.   That we have already dealt with chet with the person or people, does not mean we do not have to repent of it and apologize to G-d for it too.  When Yom Kippur is over, we truely do have a clean slate, as we have repaired that years wrong.  In the comming year we must strive to not repeat the same mistakes, to always become better.

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