High Holiday Highlights: Havdalah and Rosh Hashanah
Havdalah and Rosh Hashanah.
Every Saturday night, we mark the distinction between Shabbat
and the week with the first of these.Shortly
we celebrate the second with the coming of the New Year, 5784.
These two rituals, seemingly distinct, hold profound connections
that illuminate the depth and richness of our faith.
NSJC is making a connection between the two by making Havdalah
our mitzvah of the year. This initiative
will bring the congregation together in person or together in spirit around
And we will begin on Erev Simchat Torah, Saturday night, October
7th, celebrate with us and receive a gift of a Havdalah set
for you and your family to use in the year ahead.After that, they will be available to pick up
at the synagogue and as possible we will deliver them to those who live
There are also deeper, religious connections between the start
of the New Year and the end of Shabbat.
Havdalah marks the transition between the holiness of Shabbat
and the regular days of the week. Through the symbolic use of a braided candle,
wine, and spices, we bid farewell to the tranquility of Shabbat and embrace the
opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Rosh Hashanah stands as a time of
reflection, repentance, and renewal. During this period, we look back at the
previous year, examining our actions and seeking forgiveness.Yet we also look forward, recommitting
ourselves to living aligned with our values and the teachings of our tradition.
In Havdalah, as we extinguish the braided candle's flame, we are
reminded of the light that Shabbat brought into our lives. This light
represents not only physical illumination but also the spiritual enlightenment
and warmth that comes from dedicating time to connect with our faith, our loved
ones, and ourselves. Similarly, Rosh Hashanah serves as a beacon of light,
guiding us towards introspection and self-improvement.
The traditional sweet kosher wine shared during Havdalah
signifies celebration and joy, reminding us of the blessings that accompany the
conclusion of Shabbat. Likewise, as we dip apples in honey, Rosh Hashanah calls
us to rejoice in the gift of a new year, to celebrate life's potential, and to
express gratitude for the opportunities that lie ahead.
Spices, an essential part of Havdalah, remind us of the fragrant
spices used to revive our senses as the sweetness of Shabbat departs. In a
similar vein, the High Holiday season, which starts with Rosh Hashanah,
concludes with Sukkot when we enjoy the scents of the etrog and the myrtle in
the lulav bouquet, and the smells of autumn that surround us while we sit in
our sukkot. Thus, the New Year holidays also awaken our spiritual senses, reinvigorating
our connection with God, and recommitting us to living with purpose and
The connection between Havdalah and Rosh Hashanah runs deeper
than mere coincidence. Both observances guide us through transitions – from the
sacred to the ordinary, and from one year to the next. They inspire us to
reflect, renew, and rekindle the flame of our faith. As we gather around the
Havdalah table every week and prepare to welcome the High Holy Days, may we
carry the lessons of these observances with us, guiding our journey towards
growth, renewal, and a deeper connection with our Creator.
Just as the braided candle, wine, and spices of Havdalah guide
us through the conclusion of Shabbat, let the themes of reflection, repentance,
and renewal of Rosh Hashanah guide us through the beginning of a new year. Let
us take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to living a life of love,
compassion, and justice, and may the blessings of both Havdalah and Rosh
Hashanah shine upon us and our community.
For more information about Havdalah take a look at “Exploring Judaism,”
a new website created by the Conservative Movement:Exploring
Shanah Tovah, Happy New Year – may each of its weeks be a Shavua
Tov, a good one!