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Yom Teruah: Day Of The Shofar Blast
                        Ellen Kavanaugh

YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. ‘You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH.’" Leviticus 23:23-25

Yom Teruah basically means a day of noise/blasts. Yom Teruah is known as the Feast of Trumpets in Christianity and is better known as Rosh Hashannah (the new year) in modern Judaism. But Yom Teruah isn't really the 'Jewish New Year,' in fact, it falls on the first day of Etanim, (also known traditionally as Tishri) which is the seventh month in YHVH's calendar. The real 'new year' is in Aviv (also known traditionally as Nisan) when Pesakh/Passover occurs.

Yom Teruah begins a ten-day period leading up to the holiest day of YHVH's calendar, Yom Kippur -- the "Day Of Atonement." These ten days are called the 'Days of Awe' in modern Judaism. In fact, modern Judaism also includes the preceding month of Elul also as a time to prepare for the upcoming Fall moedim (appointed times). The sounding of the shofar on Yom Teruah is a wake-up blast -- a reminder that the time is near for the Day of Atonement. It is time to teshuvah (repent, turn back to YHVH). Traditionally, these ten days are ones of heart searching and self examination -- the shofar warns us we need to examine our lives and make amends with all those we have wronged in the previous year, and to ask forgiveness for any vows we may have broken. So a main theme of the Fall Holy Days is repentance.

Hearing the shofar blow is a mitzvah (command). Most Messianic congregations follow tradition when it comes to 'how' to blow the shofar. Traditionally, the Baal Tekiah (shofar blower) begins with one held blast called Tekiah; followed by three broken blasts called Shevarim; followed by nine even faster broken blasts called Teruah. The Tekiah, Shevarim, and Teruah each last the same length of time. These are repeated three times. Then the Baal Tekiah concludes by blowing and holding a final blast as long as he can (basically, until he runs out of breath). This final blast is called Tekiah Gedolah. I am not convinced that this arrangement of blows is important to fulfill the biblical command of blowing the shofar, but I see nothing wrong if tradition prevails in this instance. Scripturally, no such blast arrangement is mentioned, but as long as the shofar is blown and people hear it, I would consider the mitzvah satisfied. For those who will be unable to attend a congregation:

Shofar Wave


And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. Numbers 29:1

We've discussed that Yom Teruah represents a warning cry for us to wake up and repent -- to prepare ourselves for YHVH. In non-Messianic traditional Judaism it is believed that YHVH records our names in the Book of Life during the Fall festivals. Hence, a common greeting you might hear before and during Yom Teruah is "May you be inscribed (in the book of life)." Another popular greeting is 'L'shana Tova' which is a wish for a good new year. Traditional foods on Yom Teruah are 'sweet' - apples dipped in honey (and sweet dishes made with apples, honey, raisins, figs, sweetened carrots, and pomegranates, etc. are served). The traditional challah bread is made sweeter and shaped in a circle, symbolizing completeness and never-ending sweetness. The rabbinic idea of this 'sweetness' was to bring a sense of optimism to the festival, since the themes of repentance and atonement might have made this season a somber time of remorse alone. So this is why (if you were wondering) so many sites have apple and honeybee themes during Yom Teruah. Tradition! Tradition!

There is also an interesting rabbinic tradition of Tashlich, which is the act of casting bread crumbs into a moving body of water to symbolize the removal of our sins. This comes from Micah 7:19: "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Tashlich means 'to cast.' Another tradition is to serve the head of a fish with a new year theme of "be the head, not the tail."

Other themes during Yom Teruah are those of rebirth and resurrection, especially noted in the Brit Chadasha (new testament).

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:31

"Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

Dispensationalists with interest in the 'Jewish roots of the faith' have begun equating Yom Teruah with their pre-tribulational-style rapture doctrine and many consider Yom Teruah the next festival to be 'fulfilled' by Yeshua in their prophetic calendar. It's beautiful imagery, but I cannot agree with this assumption. I would point out that the Spring festivals fulfilled by Yeshua occurred chronologically in 'real time' and that so far, I have yet to see a "Fall Holy Day Fulfillment" explanation that could place their fulfillments before the tribulation. To have the festivals fulfilled in 'real time' (i.e. rapture; followed ten literal days later by the "Day of Atonement;" then followed five literal days later with Sukkot (booths/tabernacles)) it is impossible to make them fall before the tribulation (or before the millennium, for that matter). In order to have a literal unfolding of Fall festivals in chronological 'real time,' then the only likely scenario would be for the Fall festivals to begin after the tribulation, especially since the millennium would seem to represent a literal Sukkot the best (Zechariah 14:18,19). Just food for thought.

Since there are many trumpets mentioned in Scripture, it is unwise to assume every mention of a trumpet necessarily refers to Yom Teruah, especially when making escatological predictions regarding the HolyDays, as we are also commanded to sound the trumpet on Yom Kippur (Lev 25:9) to signify the Jubilee year. We do know that when a trumpet blows (in Torah, Prophets, and Revelation) it's almost always a summons, a war-cry, an alert warning (to prepare for something), to hail an arrival, or a wake-up call if one has been slumbering (spiritually or physically). I hadn't intended on mentioning any eschatology references to the Fall Festivals, but felt I needed to mention this Dispensationalist theory since I know many people start looking for "Fall Holy Day Fulfillment" articles this time of year.

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