Why Yom Teruah is Not Rosh HaShanah

Why Yom Teruah is Not Rosh HaShanah

On the first day of the seventh month is the Feast of Trumpets. Is this day also Rosh HaShanah? Or are Yom Teruah and Rosh HaShanah completely different holidays?

When my family and I first started keeping the High Holidays, we celebrated Rosh HaShanah. On the 1st of Tishrei, we did all the customs. The honey, the circular challah, the apples, the new year resolutions, everything. We had no idea what Yom Teruah was or that we should be celebrating it instead. Later, we saw them as equals. A holiday with two different names but were equal in celebration and meaning. 

However, when the Spring Feasts were coming the following year, I wanted to know more about how to celebrate the high holidays according to the Bible and not according to custom, so I heavily researched every holiday as they came. Once the next Rosh HaShanah came, I realized that Rosh HaShanah and Yom Teruah were not the same! 

What is Yom Teruah?

Yom Teruah occurs on a New Moon and is the first of the Fall High Holidays. It is also called the Feast of Trumpets. It is a day of remembrance of the faithfulness of God to his people. 

The word “Teruah” in Hebrew refers to a shout, or an alarm, or rejoicing and was demonstrated throughout the scriptures.

It is a day to look for the New Moon, a day of rest, a day of remembrance, and a day to the blow the shofar – Numbers 10: 1- 10, Psalms 81: 2 – 3.

What is Rosh HaShanah?

Literally meaning ‘head of the year’ Rosh HaShanah is the celebration of the new year. It is customary to eat apples and challah dipped in honey and other sweet fruits and desserts to symbolize a sweet new year. 

Yom Teruah is not Rosh HaShanah

Many people believe that Yom Teruah and Rosh HaShanah are the same and that one is just another name for the other, but this is not true!

Rosh HaShanah originated during the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews. The Babylonians celebrated two new years, the first being in the spring and second on the 1st of the seventh month called Akitu. They held a festival for the Babylonians’ chief god- Marduk, which was celebrated in his temple. It was thought that during this time, Marduk would renew the world and pass judgment on human beings.

During this captivity, the Rabbis changed the holiday of Yom Teruah into Rosh HaShanah, a change that was directly influenced by the Babylonian culture and practices that they were surrounded by and involved in. (Nehemias’ Wall “How Yom Teruah”).

The Mishnah – the Jewish oral law, as well as, the Talmud – Jewish civic and ceremonial law, both tell the story of how Yom Teruah became known as a New Year. Special foods are recorded and their significance is indicated that by eating them it will be a good omen for the year to come. These and other traditions are even called a “type of magic” by contemporary rabbis and scholars (Schalk “Not Rosh HaShanah”).

These and other traditions are a clear deviation of Scriptures, which says the New Year is on the first day of the first month of the year in the month of Nisan or Abib, indicated in Exodus 12:2. It is in the early spring when plant life is coming to life after the long winter season, that the new year occurs. 

 In researching both Yom Teruah and Rosh HaShanah, it is clear that they are completely different holidays and should not be referred to as interchangeable.

Yom Teruah is a time that can be misunderstood and overshadowed by the more popular and secular Rosh HaShanah, but it should be a time where we dive into the word of God to better understand this holiday and to celebrate in Him. We should look for the new moon, blow the shofar, and rest during this time of transition from summer to fall. Shalom!

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