The feasts of the Jewish month of Tishrei – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot – starting on Monday, September 6, provide an auspicious time to accomplish a path of repentance.

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The first holiday that opens the Jewish month of Tishrei is Rosh Hashanah (this year, from Monday September 6 to Wednesday September 8), considered by Jewish tradition as the Day of Judgment of Mankind. But, far from being a final condemnation, this divine judgment is actually a starting point, which opens up the possibility of rebirth. “On this day, God calls us to visit our life and initiate our repentance,” says Rabbi Philippe Haddad. Our creator asks us to question ourselves on how we have exercised our responsibility all in the name of the year. “

At the synagogue, the liturgies come to support this effort of introspection, in particular thanks to the regular ringing of the shofar, a wind instrument carved out of a ram’s horn whose hoarse and primitive sound should invite one to regroup and carry out an examination of conscience, the teshuvah, which in Hebrew means “return” or “answer”. This process of contrition is symbolized on the first day of Rosh Hashanah by the tradition of going near a water point to symbolically throw down one’s faults.

The judgment of God on the man placed on Rosh Hashanah is only temporary and depends precisely on the inner journey undertaken during the month of Tishrei, which should lead, ideally, to experiencing the joy of divine mercy. The sincerity of the believer’s self-examination will be assessed by God on the Day of Great Forgiveness (Yom Kippur) ten days later.

Rosh Hashanah, which takes place over two days, is marked by recollection “but not by sadness because, if each man has made mistakes, he also has a number of good deeds to his account. Fear and hope mark the feast, ”explains Michel Coirault in his book To know the Jewish, Christian and Muslim feasts (Éd. Du Cerf). Rosh Hashanah is also the occasion for sumptuous family meals, including apples dipped in honey and good wines, which symbolize the sweetness of the year to come.

For it is precisely on Rosh Hashanah (“head of the year” in Hebrew) that the year begins. According to tradition, this holiday also marks the first day of the Jewish calendar year, which is why believers wish each other a happy new year (“Chana tova”).

Rosh Hashanah opens a period of ten days, called “dreadful”, during which believers are invited by God to do their examination of conscience (teshuva). These days are not strictly speaking a religious holiday but constitute an essential part of the spiritual journey that will lead to the Day of Great Forgiveness, Yom Kippur.

Judaism rejecting the idea of ​​human perfection, man must constantly “return” to God. Teshuva is therefore “first and foremost a work of memory,” explains Rabbi Philippe Haddad. “We have to look back at the past year, realize its religious, moral and spiritual flaws and commit to taking concrete action. “

Through this introspection, the faithful rebuild their interiority and rebuild their relationship with God. Teshuvah also covers a communal and messianic dimension, since in the Torah all of Israel is called to return to their God. At the end of these ten days of discernment, the Day of Great Forgiveness takes place, Yom Kippur.

The most solemn feast of the Jewish liturgical calendar, “the Sabbath of Shabbats”, it is on this day that the judgment of God is sealed, “pending” since Rosh Hashanah. Day of complete fasting (food and water), not worked, it is devoted to prayer and repentance.

Yom Kippur, September 15 and 16 this year, stretches from nightfall to the following evening, 25 hours in all, during which the faithful are called to meet in the synagogue to implore God’s forgiveness. The atonement desired by the faithful covers the faults committed during the year since the last Yom Kippur.

On the Day of Forgiveness, the synagogues are full. The devotees are joined by occasional practitioners and non-believers, who want to testify to their fidelity and their attachment to traditions. They wear a white outfit, as a sign of aspiration to purity and innocence.

Similarities exist between the absolution of God given during Catholic confession and the forgiveness given by God to the Jewish faithful. But also differences. “The Jewish religion does not imply individual confession of one’s personal faults, but a descent towards oneself and a request for forgiveness from those to whom one has wronged”, details Bernard Collignon, author of the Small book major religious festivals (Ed. Le Bord de l’eau). “When God’s forgiveness is given, the fault no longer exists,” says Rabbi Philippe Haddad.

The Sukkot festival, September 20-27, takes place four days after Yom Kippur. During this feast, whose name is translated Feast of the huts, it is traditionally for the devout faithful to leave their usual home to live in a hut, in memory of forty years of wandering the Hebrew people in the desert after the outing. from Egypt.

This week of celebration is characterized by joy, the reward for the divine mercy bestowed on Yom Kippur and the return to God after going astray. In the synagogue, jubilation is characterized by rounds sung and danced around the platform where the Torah is read, especially on the last day when Sim’hat Torah (“the joy of the Torah” in Hebrew) is celebrated. This last week of celebration consecrates spiritual liberation.

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