Quick Comment: Parashat Emor, (Leviticus 21-24)
In the Torah where Holy days and festivals are listed (Leviticus 23), there are only two sentences about Rosh Hashanah. Why does such an important occasion in Jewish life get so little space?
It is fair to assume that when writing involved engraving words into stone or writing each letter on parchment that the amount of space a subject received was indicative of its importance. Clearly, Rosh Hashanah was once a minor observance.
But now, Wow! Architects designed many of our sanctuaries to expand to provide more space for the Rosh Hashanah (and, Yom Kippur) crowds.
We rabbis do everything we can to lure people in during the year. But on Rosh Hashanah many communities print tickets to keep non-members out.
Two Historical Events
Our liturgy indicates why Rosh Hashanah has become so important. Our daily and Shabbat services mention only two historical events: the creation of the world and the Exodus from Egypt. Kiddush (Shabbat blessing over wine) also only mentions the creation and the Exodus.
Now Passover in which more Jews participate than any other event during the year grandly celebrates the Exodus.
But we also needed a big occasion to celebrate the ideals taught in Genesis’ magnificent Story of Creation.
The story tells us nothing scientific about HOW the world was created but so much about WHY!
God created the world with purpose and meaning and set us human beings to be in charge of and responsible for the world.
God gave us awesome power. We are the only creatures who can do brain surgery, but we are the only ones who make bombs and bullets to kill and maim.
Our Sages wisely perceived that we needed an event to remind us to use our power prudently. That is why Rosh Hashanah became the important festival that it is!