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Rosh Hashanah and political rebellion


The past incarnations of the holiday from just a holiday, to what we know today

"Happy New Year" greeting cards at a booth in the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, 17/9/2009. Photo: Moshe Milner, CEO
"Happy New Year" greeting cards at a stand in the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, 17/9/2009. Photo: Moshe Milner, Deputy Director

Let us turn briefly to the origins of the holiday. The first, the accepted one, is drawn from the book of Exodus as follows: "And Jehovah said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: 'This month is the beginning of months for you. It is the first for you for the months of the year" (Exodus 2:1-11). Sounds clear, looks clear. is that so? And immediately, almost without a break in the verses, the author/editor "jumps up" (one of many throughout history) and plants the next set of verses, as if it were a logical and chronological continuation of the first: "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: In the tenth of this month, they will take a man for them, who will be at home ...and you had up to fourteen days for this month to be on guard and slaughtered it by the entire congregation of the congregation of Israel between the evenings. And they took some of the blood and put it on the two mezuzahs and on the doorpost... and you ate it (the lamb) in haste. Passover is for Jehovah" (ibid. 3-XNUMX). Let's leave the matter of the "two mezuzots" and focus on our matter: is this about Rosh Hashanah or Pesach? Well, this is Pesach, not Rosh Hashanah. So how do we explain the above box - "Sunday is to you for the months of the year"?

Well, the Bible went through many incarnations of editing and was finally sealed in the generation of President Raban Gamliel Dibna, somewhere in the first or second decade of the second century CE. Also, and for the above reason, the Bible is not arranged chronologically and the early and the late sometimes tend to be confused with each other.

It is clear that the chronological intention of the above verses concerns the month of Nissan as the first month of the year. And by the way, all the months of the Hebrew year today, are not Hebrew in origin but Babylonian, considering the local-pagan imitation of the Babylonian exiles to the Babylonian pagan entities. The original Hebrew names were completely different - Nissan was called Aviv, Av was called Ziv, and we have reliable archaeological confirmation of this. And Hashvan appears in the Sage sources as Mareshvan, when the research opinion gives that it is a confusion of the words "marach" and "oil", that is the eighth month, and it is in the counting order from Nisan - the month of Hashvan.
And what about Rosh Hashanah in particular? Well, in the book of Leviticus we refer as follows: "And the Lord spoke to Moses saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath of remembrance from the Holy Bible. You shall not do any manual work, and you shall sacrifice it as a woman (the special "shin") to Yahweh" (25:23-XNUMX). And how do we know that this is Rosh Hashanah, Tishrei? The answer is found in the text that numbers the date of the holiday - in the seventh month, we were from Nisan (it is the first month of the biblical chronological number) to Tishrei there were seven months.
The marking of the seventh month appears in the Book of the Wilderness in this description: "And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy reading... you shall have a day of rejoicing, and your deeds shall rise up to the smell of a sweet fragrance to the Lord, a bull, a son of cattle, one ram, lambs one year old, seven innocents..." (XIX 1 et seq. ).

The customs of the seventh month were established by Ezra and Nehemiah, the leaders of the return to Zion in the fifth century BCE, in a different way from the biblical customs, and this, it seems, as a result of the return of the exiles in Babylon/Persia for a very long time (over a hundred years at least). These included the concentration of the Jews in Jerusalem in front of the Water Gate, the reading of the Torah by Ezra the scribe, his blessing of the public, the response of the public with raised hands, saying "Amen" and bowing. Nehemiah then ordered the public not to mourn or cry when they heard the words of the Torah, but to rejoice in the holiday, to eat fat and drink sweets and even to send rations each to his brother (Nehemiah 12:2-XNUMX).

That is, in the biblical period and especially with the return of Zion, the Babylonian months were kept and according to a special order, and in any case "Rosh Hashanah" is not mentioned as the first and first of the year.

In the Hellenistic and early Roman periods, these customs continued, but Rosh Hashanah in the seventh month, i.e. Tishrei, lost its prestige and sanctity that it appropriated in the biblical period, and the reason for this is the power of the three rituals - Pesach (he is the real Rosh Hashanah), Shavuot and Sukkot where the holidays were celebrated with great splendor And the splendor and the hallowed not a little the sanctity and prestige of Rosh Hashanah.

After the destruction of the Second Temple, when Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai established the alternative center in Yavneh, temporarily of course, to Jerusalem, he renewed many of his regulations in relation to the holidays of Israel and especially in relation to Rosh Hashanah. Thanks to him, this holiday became respectable, indeed the first holiday of the year. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakhai instituted several important regulations, which had two leading goals: one - to cast a halachic-pragmatic bridge between the period before the destruction and the one after it and the second - to accustom the public to the situation of "no temple" and in the process find a temporary alternative to it.
Another goal was hidden behind these two and that is to preserve his leadership as president of the Sanhedrin even though he is not part of the traditional, official presidency family. And there was a lot here because of political usurpation with a certain agreement of the Romans and at least until peace was given in Judea.
Well, imbued with these goals, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai established a number of innovative regulations in close connection with Rosh Hashanah customs, such as: leading a mathematical-astronomical calculation of Rosh Hashanah and the sanctification of the month, and such as leading the blowing of the shofar on the holiday outside of the temple and Jerusalem and the direction to the center in the building. And it won't be easy in our eyes - this president made an important revolution in the field of dates when he established Rosh Hashanah as the first of the dates, and not just chronologically.

Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai also had something to innovate regarding the holiday of Sukkot (as in the matter of taking the Lulav) when the innovations regarding Pesach are like "he left" to his "successor" in the presidency, Rabbi Gamliel Dibna. But, and for our purposes - the one who made Rosh Hashanah the holiday that marks the beginning of the year and even emphasized that Rosh Hashanah in the Hebrew calendar is not Passover but Rosh Hashanah which falls in the month of Tishrei was none other than Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai. And by the way, neither he nor his successors dared to erase the Babylonian date and adopt the ancient Hebrew calendar, meaning the biblical one.

It was important for Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakhai to leave his mark on the world of Halacha, the customs and social aspects of the Jews in Judea after the Holocaust. And let's not forget that the status of this president was temporary due to the special historical constellation after the destruction of the Second Temple in the Roman-Jewish context of course, and moreover this president was not part of the traditional-official presidential house, like his predecessors, and his presidency was seen as usurpation to a certain extent, that is, taking the title of the presidency during a revolutionary And not so acceptable to say the least.


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