There are Jewish holidays that apply only specifically to Israel and there are Jewish holidays that also have universal significance. Although Noahides are not obligated to observe these holidays, it is advisable to pay attention to them, given their importance.
One of the holidays is Rosh HaShanah because we read in Mishna Rosh HaShanah 1:2
At four times the world is judged: on Pesach for grain, on Shavu’ot for fruit, on Rosh HaShanah they all go before him like sheep of the flock, as it is written, “He forms their hearts as one, he understands all their deeds.” (Psalm 33). On Sukkot, the world is judged by water.
But what is meant by judged? Isn’t Rosh HaShanah Jewish New Year, wasn’t it on that day that Adam or creation came into being?
The creation of the world began on the 25th day of the moon Elul. So you would say that New Year’s Day should fall on this date. However, with the creation of man, G-d introduced the potential for voluntary acceptance of His Oneness and active assent to His will. It was on this day that He became the Giving King. Man, as G-d’s partner, was given the task of making creation a dwelling place for G-d. That is why Rosh HaShanah, the birthday of Adam, became New Year’s Day. However, it is also the day that Adam and Evan ate from the tree of knowledge, with all its consequences.
So it is a day of joy, for man is the crown of creation, but also a day of judgment. It is the day Adam should have reflected on his behaviour and it is the day we humans should reflect on our behaviour today. Realising the importance of self-analysis is the beginning of spiritual growth. What behaviour was right or wrong. How was our relationship with G-d, with our fellow man and with creation in general. We should not stop at this reflection, but rather value what we did well and expand on it where possible, correct our mistakes, define goals for the coming year and consider how to adjust our behaviour to achieve them – with the help of the Eternal One.
The preparations for Rosh HaShanah begin on the first day of Elul. We take a whole month for our self-analysis. The entire month is dedicated to learning to change our behaviour. We return to G-d and answer the question that G-d asked Adam: where are you? Where are you in your life after what you have done in the past year? This is called Teshuvah (repentance). When we set aside time in the month of Elul and sincerely ask G-d for forgiveness, He is merciful and will forgive and may you know that you will be entered into G-d’s Book of Life when He judges us on Rosh HaShanah.
In what ways might you spend time:
Reading Tehillim-Psalm 24:
Of David. A psalm. The earth is the L-RD’s and all that it holds, the world and its inhabitants. For He founded it upon the ocean, set it on the nether-streams. Who may ascend the mountain of the L-RD? Who may stand in His holy place?— He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not taken a false oath by My life or sworn deceitfully. He shall carry away a blessing from the L-RD, a just reward from G-d, his deliverer. Such is the generation of those who turn to Him, Jacob, who seek Your presence. Selah. O gates, lift up your heads! Up high, you everlasting doors, so the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory?— the L-RD, mighty and valiant, the L-RD, valiant in battle. O gates, lift up your heads! Lift them up, you everlasting doors, so the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory?— the L-RD of hosts, He is the King of glory! Selah.
Reading Tehillim- Psalm 27 once or twice a day.
Of David. The L-RD is my light and my help; whom should I fear? The L0RD is the stronghold of my life, whom should I dread?When evil men assail me .to devour my flesh it is they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall.Should an army besiege me, my heart would have no fear; should war beset me, still would I be confident.One thing I ask of the L-RD, only that do I seek: to live in the house of the L-RD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the L-RD, His temple.He will shelter me in His pavilion on an evil day, grant me the protection of His tent, raise me high upon a rock.Now is my head high over my enemies round about; I sacrifice in His tent with shouts of joy, singing and chanting a hymn to the L-RD.Hear, O L-RD, when I cry aloud; have mercy on me, answer me.my heart says: “Seek My face!” O L-RD, I seek Your face.Do not hide Your face from me; do not thrust aside Your servant in anger; You have ever been my help. Do not forsake me, do not abandon me, O G-d, my deliverer.Though my father and mother abandon me, the L-RD will take me in.Show me Your way, O L-RD, and lead me on a level path because of my watchful foes.Do not subject me to the will of my foes, for false witnesses and unjust accusers have appeared against me.Had I not the assurance that I would enjoy the goodness of the L-RD in the land of the living…Look to the L-RD; be strong and of good courage! O look to the L-RD!
In addition, it is recommended that you read 3 Psalms every day. If you start with this on the first day of Elul and you do this every day, you will end up on Sukkot where the judgement over the water will be given.
It is recommended to read books or articles, watch youtubes about Teshuvah.
It is recommended to correct mistakes of the past year whenever possible, e.g. by making up for disputes, returning borrowed [forgotten] items, etc.
Let’s look back at the text of the Mishna for a moment:
“Rosh HaShanah they all go before him like sheep of the sheepfold, as it is written, ” He forms their hearts as one, he understands all their deeds.”
On Rosh HaShanah, the Eternal One looks at each person individually according to his deeds. Each person is therefore responsible for his own judgment. But how then should we read “He forms their hearts as one, He understands all their deeds”? Rashi explains in his commentary on this Mishna that the Eternal One also judges the world as a whole on this day. Just as the scale for positive/negative judgment applies to a person, it also applies to the entire society. Therefore Teshuvah is not only important for you personally, our goals, our achievements, our shortcomings affect the whole world. Because one extra act of Teshuvah can influence the judgement of the whole society, of the whole world positively/negatively.
Our efforts during the month of Elul are important to bring about the ultimate goal of creation, the unity between G-d and the world in the Era of Messiah. As we strengthen and expand our connection with the Eternal One, we bring Redemption closer…let us say that good example [hopefully] leads to good following.
In any case, let us set an example for those around us. So that eventually “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean floor”. (Isa. 11:19)
By Angelique Sijbolts
Sources:Month of Elul: Prepare for Rosh HaShanah in the Noahide Path (asknoah.org), Rosh HaShanah Reflects the Purpsose of Creation (asknoah.org.), Prayerbook for Noahides (asknoah.org), Sefaria Psalm 24, Sefaria Psalm 27
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