L'shanah Tovah!

L'shanah tovahIt’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Unlike the western new year celebration, the Hebrew new year is somewhat more solemn, although both feature (at least a little) introspection and resolutions for living a better life in the coming year.

Rosh Hashanah means “the head (or first) of the year.” It’s a traditional term, not found in scripture. The actual day, instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25, is Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar).

The common greeting “L’shanah tovah” means “for a good year,” and is a shortened version of “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (or to women, “L’shanah tovah tikatevi v’taihatemi”),  which means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

By the Jewish calendar, it has been 5776 years since God created the world.

There are several practices or rituals for this day – learn more here.

L’shanah Tovah!

Spock Really Did Say "Shalom"

The blessing Nimoy references is Numbers 6:24-26 (often referred to as the Aaronic blessing):

The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you
And be gracious to you,
The Lord lift up His countenance on you
And give you peace.

Or, as he summarized it:

Live Long and Prosper.

Shalom!

Shalom, Y'all!

ShalomEver watch NCIS? It’s one of my favorite TV shows. In the final episode of season 6, “Aliyah,” the Israelis greeted the visiting NCIS team with the traditional “Shalom.” They even greeted Tony that way — and they didn’t like Tony. Seems like a nice gesture; shalom means “peace,” right?

Not long after watching that episode, I read the first chapter of the book of Nahum. The first part of verse fifteen says, “Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace!” I use the “New Spirit Filled Life Bible” to study — it’s packed full of all kinds of interesting information. Following verse fifteen is this study on the word “peace,” which of course is translated from the Hebrew word shalom.

Completeness, wholeness, peace, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalam, meaning “to be complete, perfect and full.” Thus shalom is much more than the absence of war and conflict, it is the wholeness that the entire human race seeks.

Like so many other Hebrew words, the common English translation leaves so much unexpressed. When you say “Shalom!” to someone, you’re blessing him with completeness/abundance in body, soul, spirit, wealth and relationships.

And we forget, sometimes, that God intends for His children to bless everyone. In the Old Testament, God promised Abraham, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” In the New Testament Jesus told His disciples “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” God intends for His children to make everyone’s life better.

I don’t see how anyone can object to that, whatever his faith or absence thereof (it’s even the same word as the traditional Arab greeting of salaam). And we already say “good bye,” which is a derived from “God be with ye.” Sometimes I say shalom instead of “goodbye,” “see ya,” “take care,” “best regards,” “be cool, yo” etc. Part of our jobs as Christians is to be a blessing, right? I’m trying to do it on purpose.

I love studying the meanings in the original Hebrew and Greek of scripture, so you can expect more posts like this. In the meantime…

Shalom, y’all!