with trumpetsand the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King. — Psalm 98:6

At sundown today, Jewish people around the world mark the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and the beginning of the High Holy Days – the holiest time of the year on the Jewish calendar. Since no work can be done during Rosh Hashanah, these devotions were prepared in advance for you.To learn more about this observance, download our free study on the shofar, ram’s horn, that ushers in this holy season.

At sundown today, a new year will dawn. According to Jewish tradition, 5,778 years have passed since the creation of the world, and at sundown, the year 5,779 will begin. As we say in our prayers today, “May the old year and its curses be gone.” Today, we welcome in a new year and all its blessings.

Rosh Hashanah, which literally means “the head of the year,” is a time of new beginnings. According to Jewish tradition, on this day the first man was created as God breathed life into his nostrils. In the same way, God breathes new life into each of us and into the world. In fact, the focal point of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the trumpet, shofar in Hebrew. The Jewish sages teach that as we blow into the trumpet, out comes the breath of God to sustain us for another year.

Let’s consider for a moment the source of the original shofar. According to Jewish tradition, another incident that occurred on this day was the binding of Isaac – the day that Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son to God. At the last minute, God’s angel stopped Abraham from finishing the deed. He had passed the test of obedience, and Isaac was freed. However, Abraham still needed to offer something to God. Suddenly, he saw a ram in the thicket and he sacrificed the ram in place of his son. The ram’s horns became a symbol of our obedience to God, and today, the ram’s horn serves as our trumpet.

The sages teach that God took each horn from Abraham’s ram and turned them into the very first trumpets. The first one was sounded at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The second was fashioned in order to herald in the era of resurrection. However, each year, on Rosh Hashanah, as we blow the trumpet, God resurrects something inside each of us. Something that was dead or latent comes to life. New things are possible.

Another episode that happened on Rosh Hashanah according to Jewish tradition was that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who had been barren until then became pregnant with Isaac. Until that time, it had been impossible for Sarah to give birth. But God created a new possibility on that day, and Isaac was conceived.

The message for us? This day overflows with possibility – new things, even seemingly impossible things, can happen in our lives.

So what is our job on this profound day? How can we receive God’s new blessings? We simply need to crown God as our King. The shofar is also the trumpet used to herald a king. Let’s make God the Master over our lives. Let’s recommit to serving Him. May this year be the year that we see unprecedented blessings – in our own lives and in the world.

Learn more about the traditions and rituals associated with Rosh Hashanah in this free issue of our Bible study series, Limmud (“study” in Hebrew), “Shofar: The Sounds of Repentance.”

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