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Thursday, Elul 26, 5782 / September 22, 2022


Rosh Hashana, the holiday which ushers in the New Year 5783 begins Sunday evening, September 25th.


Q.     Why do the secular dates of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur as well as other Jewish holidays, vary from year to year?


A.   The Jewish holidays are determined by the Hebrew calendar which always fall on the same day of the year.  On the Hebrew calendar, Rosh Hashana always occurs on the first of Tishrei; Yom Kippur always falls on the 10th of Tishrei, and Sukkot begins on the 15th of Tishrei.


The variation from year to year on the secular calendar is due to the fact that the Hebrew calendar is lunar based and consists of 354 days. The secular year, by comparison, is solar based and has 365 days. Thus, each year the Hebrew and secular calendars will vary by about 11 days.


For this reason, an adjustment has to be made every few years to synchronize the Hebrew calendar so that Passover will fall in the spring. This is accomplished by adding an extra month in the Hebrew calendar, making that year 13 months.


Q.   Why do Jewish holidays and Shabbat begin the evening before?


A.   In Genesis (Bereishis), the Torah describes what G-d created on each day of the six days of creation.  It concludes each day with the phrase, "And it wasevening, and it was day, day one; and it was evening and it was day, day two, and so on.  From here we derive that the day begins from the night before.


Q.  Why is the Torah reading on the first day of Rosh Hashana about the miraculous birth of our patriarch Yitzchak (Isaac) and on the second day about G-d's testing Abraham commanding him to bring his beloved son as a sacrifice?


A.  It was on Rosh Hashana that Sarah, at the advanced age of 90, became pregnant with Yitzchak.  As a result, we read about this great miracle on Rosh Hashana.  


In addition, on Rosh Hashana which is the day of judgment, we want to recall all the merits for the Jewish people. We also read about the miraculous birth of Yitzchak when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90. Yet, when G-d commanded him to sacrifice his beloved son Yitzchak, Abraham didn't hesitate and was immediately ready to do G-d's will. We pray that in the merit of their great belief and dedication to G-d, we will be judged favorably, and G-d will grant us all we need in the coming year.


Q.   Why are the Ark and the Torah coverings white for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur?


A.   White symbolizes cleanliness and purity.  White alludes to the words of the prophet, "Even if your sins will be as scarlet, they will become white like snow."