Happy Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year.  The Jewish New Year falls on days 1 and 2 of the month of Tishri in the Hebrew calendar. This year Rosh Hashanah will begin today, September 28 at sundown.  This Rosh Hashanah will year 5772 in the Jewish calendar.

Few Christians understand the Jewish Calendar. Michael Handelzalts, in an article published in Haaretz, provides a good introduction to Rosh Hashanah.  Below is an excerpt from the article that appeared in Haaretz.com:

This evening a new Hebrew – and therefore Jewish year begins, according to our calendar and our calculations. It will be the year 5772, and as usual, will be referred to not in numbers, but rather in Hebrew letters.

The calendar’s count began, of course, with the Creation. Not of the world itself, actually, but of man, as we learn from Rabbi Jose (Yossi ) ben Halafta, who lived during the years 3761-3821 (100-160 C.E. ). In his seminal work “Seder Olam Rabba” – which is generally accepted as a “guidebook” to biblical dates – the great Torah scholar presented chronologies related to the lives of various figures, beginning with Adam. But as the first man was created on the sixth day of Creation, the five preceding days apparently belong to the year that ended the day before his own creation, which one might call B.H.E. or “Before the Hebrew Era.” But that is another matter.

The year 5772 is represented by the letters heh (which stands for 5,000 ), tav and shin (400 and 300, respectively – i.e., 700 ), ayin (70 ) and bet (2 ). The resulting combination of letters does not form a word with any meaning, nor is it even pronounceable. People refer to it and other years in the form of a sort of acronym, a succession of letters with numerical value.

The fact that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are each assigned a numerical value have allowed sages and scholars past and present to indulge in what is called gematria, which is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a kabbalistic method of interpreting the Hebrew scriptures by computing the numerical value of words, based on the values of their constituent letters.” Some such experts, who have committed the Bible to memory after numerous years of study, are gifted with a particular mathematical-numerological ability: They are capable of coming up, on the spot, with a passage from the Bible, identified by the numbers of its chapter and verse, which, when all its letters are added together, has the same value as a certain other name, word or phrase – and thus a special significance.

Nowadays, with computers and the right software, anyone can dabble in DLNCV – Divination by Letter, Number, Chapter and Verse. Thus, the year heh-tav-shin-ayin-bet, 5772, is equal to the sum of the letters of verse 52 of the third chapter in the Book of Lamentations, rendered into English as “They have chased me sore like a bird, that are mine enemies without cause.”

You can read the article in its entirety by visiting Haaretz.com.

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Jewish readers.

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