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The question asked about Rosh Hashanah by "Uri" was awkwardly timed -- he
asked it after the 2-day festival began, with the result that those in the
best position to give an answer were unable to do so at the time. Apparently
the questioner was unaware that on this (jointly with Yom Kippur) most sacred
day of the Jewish calendar, even Jews who are far from strictly observant
tend to abstain from such secular activities as talking on the net.....
The person who did answer the question was in general correct, except for
the historical anachronism inherent in his comments, when he said:
>It was not called Rosh Hashana (Head of the Year) until Mishnaic times. It
known as Yom ha-Din (Day of Judgement). The oldest name for the observance in
Bible is found in Numbers 29:1, Yom Teruah (The Day of Blowing the Horn). The
of the Shofar was to call the devout to repentance before divine judgement.
The first sentence is correct; but the implication that in biblical or pre-
Mishnaic times it was known as Yom Ha-Din is not -- nor does the Bible in
any way indicate that the purpose of blowing the shofar in biblical times
was to call the devout to repentance before divine judgment! All of those
ideas are connected with the later, post-biblical (i.e., post-OT) entrance
into Judaism of that whole slew of ideas concerning resurrection and judgment.
It is therefore ahistorical to retroject them into the Torah's references to
the Day of Blowing the Shofar (though they could have gained currency at any
point after the completion of the HB and perhaps well before the writing of
Another important and perhaps pre-mishnaic aspect of the festival is its
function as a memorial of the creation of the world. This is reflected in
a central segment of the liturgy. However, one can't assume that the biblical
name Yom Ha-Zikkaron (Day of Memorial) necessarily points to this rather than
to some other "memorial" that has become lost to us. Both the shofar-blowing
and the "memorial" are presumably vestigial remnants of some pagan observance
or other (like so much that is obscure in biblical ritual).
Judith Romney Wegner