The Rosh Hashanah Anthology

By Philip Goodman | Go to book overview

XIX
THE CULINARY ART OF ROSH HASHANAH

A number of symbolic customs were prescribed to enhance the significance of Rosh Hashanah meals. According to some writers, their original motivation may have been a belief that these customs would be omens of good luck, a concept many rabbis condemned as an exercise in superstition. As they evolved, however, they served to induce a festive holiday atmosphere and to inspire faith and confidence that God's mercy would be ever present in the new year.

The custom of feasting on Rosh Hashanah is adumbrated biblically in the Book of Nehemiah (8.10). After Ezra the scribe had read from the book of the Law on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri), the assembled people burst into weeping. Whereupon Nehemiah said to them: "Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions unto him for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy unto the Lord...." This passage also reminds the Jew of his obligation to provide food for the poor. Thus it is customary to invite the needy for the Rosh Hashanah meals.

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