Rosh Hashanah, also referred to as Yom HaZikkaron or the Day of Remembrance, is about teshuvah or returning to God through repentance. The holiday is used to remind us that submission to God is the way to demonstrate a repentant attitude to the Lord.
Rosh Hashanah recalls the story of Isaac’s near-sacrifice when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son as an offering. Abraham obeyed God’s command, built an alter, and prepared to sacrifice Isaac. At the very last minute, he was stopped by the Angel of the Lord. The Angel pointed out a ram and told Abraham to sacrifice it in place of Isaac. Here, it shows a clear picture of the sacrifice of Jesus by the Father on behalf of those who trust in Him.
To help celebrate this wonderful holiday and show your repentance for the new year, follow these simple prayers and blessings.
On Erev Rosh Hashanah, about 18 minutes before sundown the following blessing is recited while kindling the holiday candles.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with His commandments and command us to kindle the lights of Yom Zikkaron.
The Shehecheyanu Blessing
The Shehecheyanu blessing is said to thank God for enabling us to reach this season. It is also customary to bless the children at this time, as well as to offer up spontaneous prayer and thanks to God.
Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.
Kiddush and HaMotzi
The holiday is sanctified by reciting Kiddush (the blessing over wine).
Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has chosen us from all the peoples, hallowing us with mitzvot. In Your love, Adonai our God, You have given us this Day of Remembrance, to hear the sound of the Shofar, to unite in worship, and to recall the Exodus from Egypt. For You have chosen us from all the peoples, consecrating us to Your service, and Your word is truth eternal. Praised is the Sovereign God, Sovereign of all the world, who hallows the House of Israel and the Day of Remembrance.
Then, before eating the holiday meal, by reciting the HaMotzi prayer (the blessing over bread.)
Since Rosh Hashana celebrates the cyclical passage of time and the progression of holidays of the New Year, it is customary to recite the HaMotzi blessing over round loaves of challah which symbolizes the revolving season or the Crown of God. They are often sweetened with raison and honey for the holiday to wish the upcoming year to be a sweet one.
Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth the living bread from heaven.
Blessing Over Fruit
Traditionally, apples are dipped in honey and the following blessing is recited before eating.
Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the trees. May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that you renew for us a good and sweet year in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
Grace After the Meal
After the meal, it is customary to recite the birkat hamazon, the “grace after meals,” including special additions marking the festival of Rosh Hashanah. A shortened blessing is provided here.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, master of the universe, who nourishes the whole world in goodness, with grace, kindness and compassion. Blessed are You, Lord, who nourishes all. Amen.
Listening to the Shofar
If you have a shofar (ram’s horn), you may want to listen to the sound by blowing it before this prayer. The one who blows the horn would recite the following blessing.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with His commandments and commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar.
The fish symbolizes that we grow and multiply. First, the appropriate blessing for eating the fish (the she-hakol blessing) is said.
Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who by His Word bring about all things.
Before eating the fish, it is said:
May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that we will be fruitful and multiply like fish.
Guests then turn to look at the head of the fish and say:
May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that we be the head and not the tail.
Rosh Hashanah Mussaf prayer themes
Malkiyot: God is King
God is sovereign of the Jewish people and the universe.
God intervenes in the world. God will not abandon people and Isreal will remember and invoke God mindful of the Divine promises to them.
Shofarot: Revelation and Repdeptaio
Acknowledge of revelation: remembering God’s covenant with Israel at Sinai, the merit of the ancestors and promise of the future at day ago.
The Jewish New Year is a time for celebration and engagement into our past and future. Reflect on what you wish to make right with the Lord and ask for forgiveness. Then, take time to bless those around you and wish them a happy year to come!