In Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashana has several names that can help us understand the importance and power of this holiday.

Rosh Hashana, which begins this Friday evening, September 15th, literally means “Head of the Year,” because Rosh Hashana marks the point when we begin the new calendar year (i.e. from 5783 to 5784).

Yom Harat Olam is translated as “The Birthday of the World.”

Yom Hazikaron is translated as “The Day of Remembering.”

Yom Hadin is translated as “The Day of Judgment.”

Yom Teruah is translated as “The Day of Sounding (the Shofar).” This is the actual name that the holiday is called in the Torah.

How do these five different names for the holiday relate to each other?

The Teruah is the staccato sound blown on the shofar. Yom Teruah serves as a call to attention, because this day is Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment, and it is imperative that a person be cognizant of the importance of the day. It is the Day of Judgment because it is Yom Hazikaron, the day on which God looks back and “remembers” our deeds, individually, collectively and historically (a record of over 4,000 years of Jewish history). Why is this the Day of Remembrance? Because it is the anniversary of the creation of the world (Yom Harat Olam).

Since the annual cycle is closing, it is the perfect time for reflection and judgment. This new beginning allows each of us to enter the new year with a clean slate. And since the old year and the new year are seamless, this day is also Rosh Hashana, the “Head of the Year.”

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