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Observing The High Holy Days

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Well, the High Holy Days are upon us! But just what are the High Holy Days? These are the days of the fall festivals as listed in the Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures) or "Old Testament." There are three main festivals (called Mo'edim in Hebrew); 1) Rosh Hashanah; 2) Yom Kippur; 3) Sukkot. All of these mo'edim have a Holy Convocation, which is a time of public assembly and complete day of rest (see Leviticus 23).

The first mo'ed is Rosh Hashanah literally meaning "head of the new year." It begins on the Holy Convocation day of Tishri 1 on the Hebrew calendar, which is also Sept. 21, 2017. The Biblical name for this mo'ed is Yom Teru'ah meaning "the day of sounding the shofar" or also Yom haZikkaron meaning "the day of remembrance" (see Leviticus 23:23-25). This is the time when the Hebrew calendar changes to a new year (this year from 5777 to 5778), much like Jan. 1 on our Gregorian calendar. This time is noted as a happy celebration with joy and with the blowing of the shofar (kosher animal horn). Also, this is a time of seeking forgiveness from those we may have wronged. During the festive meal, challah (Hebrew braided bread) and apples are dipped in honey symbolizing our prayer for a sweet new year.

The second mo'ed is Yom Kippur literally meaning "day of atonement." It begins on the Holy Convocation day of Tishri 10, which is also Sept. 30, 2017 (see Leviticus 23:26-32). This is a fasting day and repentance (Teshuva in Hebrew), to seek God's forgiveness for our wrongs, hurts and sins.

The third mo'ed is Sukkot literally meaning, "a temporary shelter." It begins on the Holy Convocation day of Tishri 15, which is also October 5, 2017, and ends with a Holy Convocation day on Tishri 22, which is also October 12, 2017 (see Leviticus 23:33-44). This is also called the "Kings Festival" for this is when the Holy Tabernacle and first Temple were dedicated and the "Glory of God" came upon them. During this time we build a sukkah (a hut) and dwell in it (as much as you can at our elevation) as a reminder of God's provision for His people after the exodus from Egypt. We have much participation in joyous fellowship and food and the "four species" (lulav in Hebrew) is waved on each of these days of Sukkot.

During all of these festivals and Holy Convocation days, certain songs and Biblical texts are read out-loud in the synagogue in joyous participation and unitizing fellowship together.

These mo'edim are a truly a biblical, festive and joyous time and all are encouraged to join with your Jewish and/or Messianic Jewish brethren in celebrating these festive times with them. To truly learn more, come and partake in these God-given Biblical festivals!

Rabbi Uziel ben Yochanan is from Derekh haMashiyach (Way of the Messiah), the Orthodox Messianic fellowship located in Cedaredge. To receive additional information on a variety of subjects contact, rebuziel@gmail.com.

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