The Feast of Trumpets: Understanding this Jewish Holiday

trumpet finger chartThe Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruach יום תרועה as it is properly known, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the beginning of their new year. However, the celebration of this holy day has roots going further back than this modern incarnation. It is an important day in the Jewish faith, and is one of two that occurs in the autumn season, which are together known as the High Holy Days.

If you are studying the Hebrew language and the Jewish culture, understanding the most important days of religious observance, such as the Feast of Trumpets, can help you into grasping more knowledge on the Jewish religion and the culture from which it stems.

There is some confusion between the differences between the Feast of Trumpets as outlined by the Scriptures and the coinciding Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, as the latter does not have a Biblical source and both are observed on the same day. However, they are different, and if you truly want to learn more about this culture and this religion then understanding what the Feast of Trumpets in can be important.

Origin of the Feast of Trumpets

As with all other Jewish holidays, apart from a few exceptions, the Feast of Trumpets originates in the Jewish Scriptures, specifically the Torah. During the giving of the Law of Moses to the people of Israel in the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt, G-d instructed the people on how to live their daily lives, including the setting aside of specific holidays, or feasts, to celebrate.

While some holidays coincide with different harvests, such as the Feast of Booths (Sukkoth) or Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), the Feast of Trumpets began strictly as a time set aside for religious purposes. As dictated by the Holy Scriptures, this day was to be observed as, “A day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation”(Leviticus 23:24). Thus, the Feast of Trumpets was given to the children of Israel, and since has been observed by the Jewish people.

Symbolism of the Shofar

Consequentially, as the children of Israel were instructed to observe the Feast of Trumpets with “a blast of trumpets,”the shofar has traditionally become one of the primary symbols associated with the holiday. Shofars are musical instruments of ancient origins, typically made from a kosher animal’s horn, and commonly used for Jewish religious purposes.

The shofar is seen as a mitzvah, or commandment, during this holiday. That is, those who not only hear the shofar blast must take into consideration the significance of the shofar and the reasons for it being commanded in the scriptures.

Due to the mitzvah of the shofar, the expert who is to blow the shofar, or Ba’al T’qiah, must be chosen with great care; there are specific Rabbinical regulations for this process that must be followed. This is because the shofar’s blast is believed to a “wake-up call.”The Feast of Trumpets for the Jewish people is a time of spiritual awakening, reconnecting with the L-rd, and recommitting to their divine mission.

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The Feast of Trumpets within the High Holy Days

As mentioned before, the celebration of the Feast of Trumpets is a part of the Jewish High Holy Days, or Yamim Nora’im, also known as the Days of Awe. This is because of the chronological structure of these holidays as commanded within the Scriptures. Two major Jewish holidays occur within ten days of one another – the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – and occur within the Jewish month of Elul.

These days have traditionally become known as the Ten Days of Repentance. Rabbinically, it is believed that on the Day of Judgment (Feast of Trumpets) at the trumpet’s blast (the shofar blast), three books are opened, one of those being the Book of Life. During the sequential ten days, people are able to repent and to change the judgment that has so far been made about them. This process ends with final day, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), after which the books are sealed for another year.

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