The shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, “big tekiah”), the final blast in a set, which lasts 10 seconds minimum.
Feasts of the Lord: A Prophetic Expectation
From Passover to the Feast of Tabernacles, El Shaddai Congregation embraces the calling God gave to the people of Israel. We see the prophetic message God established in these feasts about Yeshua’s first and second coming and celebrate them trusting in God’s awesome promises.
Also referred to as Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Chag he-Aviv , (the Spring Festival), Chag ha-Matzot , (the Festival of Matzahs), Z’man Cheiruteinu , (the Time of Our Freedom)
And this day shall become a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a festival for the Lord, for your generations, as an eternal decree shall you observe it. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove the leaven from your homes … you shall guard the unleavened bread, because on this very day I will take you out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree. – Exodus 12:14-17
Pesach begins on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. It is the first of the three major festivals with historical, agricultural, and spiritual significances. (the other two are Shavu’ot and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel. The primary observances of Pesach are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. This story is told in Exodus, Ch. 1-15. And we as Messianic believers find much significance in it’s connection to our Messiah Yeshua’s death and resurrection.
The name “Pesach” comes from the Hebrew root Pei-Samekh-Cheit , meaning to pass through, to pass over, to exempt or to spare. It refers to the fact that God “passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. In English, the holiday is known as Passover. “Pesach” is also the name of the sacrificial offering (a lamb) that was made in the Temple on this holiday.
On the first night of Pesach (first two nights for traditional Jews outside Israel), we have a special family meal to remind us of the significance of the holiday. This meal is called a seder , from a Hebrew root word meaning “order,” because there is a specific set of information that is discussed in a order. It is the same root from which we derive the word “siddur” , (prayer book).
Pesach lasts for seven days (eight days outside of Israel). The first and last days of the holiday (first two and last two outside of Israel) are days on which no work is permitted. See Extra Day of Holidays for more information. Work is permitted on the intermediate days. These intermediate days on which work is permitted are referred to as Chol Ha-Mo’ed, as are the intermediate days of Sukkot.
For a detailed overview of the Messianic Seder we refer you to the Haggadah sold by Messianic Resources: http://www.messianicjewish.net/store/products.php?pid=269&detail=true
Also referred to as the Jewish New Year, The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), The Day of Judgment (Yom ha Din), The Day of Rememberance (Yom ha Zikkaron)
Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. One of the most important observances of Rosh Hashanah is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day.
In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. No work is permitted on this day. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded.
Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our desire for a sweet new year. Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (“casting off”). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off.
Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services. The common greeting at this time is L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”). This is a shortening 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.”
The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent. Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year.
Also referred to as The Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. Yom Kippur is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer.
Traditionally services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM) and continue until about 3 PM. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar. It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins are made white as snow when we believe Yeshua is our Messiah and has died for our sins. The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is commonly known as Kol Nidre, named for the prayer that begins the service. “Kol nidre” means “all vows,” and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows between the person making them and G-d, such as “If I pass this test, I’ll pray every day for the next 6 months!” Perhaps the most important addition is the confession of the sins of the community, which is inserted into the Shemoneh Esrei (Amidah) prayer.
Note that all sins are confessed in the plural (we have done this, we have done that), emphasizing communal responsibility for sins.There are two basic parts of this confession: Ashamnu, a shorter, more general list (we have been treasonable, we have been aggressive, we have been slanderous…), and Al Cheit, a longer and more specific list (for the sin we sinned before you forcibly or willingly, and for the sin we sinned before you by acting callously…) Frequent petitions for forgiveness are interspersed in these prayers.
There’s also a catch-all confession: “Forgive us the breach of positive commands and negative commands, whether or not they involve an act, whether or not they are known to us.” The concluding service of Yom Kippur, known as Ne’ilah, is one unique to the day. It usually runs about 1 hour long. The ark (a cabinet where the scrolls of the Torah are kept) is kept open throughout this service, thus you must stand throughout the service. After Yom Kippur, one should begin preparing for the next holiday, Sukkot, which begins five days later.
Also referred to as:The Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Ingathering
The Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of the most joyous.
Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to in Jewish prayer and literature as Z’man Simchateinu, the Season of our Rejoicing. Sukkot is the last of the Shalosh R’galim (three pilgrimage festivals). Like Passover and Shavu’ot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural.
Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif, the Festival of Ingathering. The word “Sukkot” means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday in memory of the period of wandering.
Sukkot lasts for seven days. The two days following the festival, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, are separate holidays but are related to Sukkot and are commonly thought of as part of Sukkot.
No work is permitted on the first and second days of the holiday. Work is permitted on the remaining days. These intermediate days on which work is permitted are referred to as Chol Ha-Mo’ed, as are the intermediate days of Passover.
Another observance during Sukkot involves what are known as the Four Species (arba minim in Hebrew) or the lulav and etrog. We are commanded to take these four plants and use them to “rejoice before the L-rd.” The four species in question are an etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon native to Israel; in English it is called a citron), a palm branch (in Hebrew, lulav), two willow branches (aravot) and three myrtle branches (hadassim). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav, because the palm branch is by far the largest part. The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing and waves the species in all six directions (east, south, west, north, up and down), symbolizing the fact that G-d is everywhere.
Why are these four plants used instead of other plants? There are two primary explanations of the symbolic significance of these plants: that they represent different parts of the body, or that they represent different kinds of Jews. According to the first interpretation, the long straight palm branch represents the spine. The myrtle leaf, which is a small oval, represents the eye. The willow leaf, a long oval, represents the mouth, and the etrog fruit represents the heart. All of these parts have the potential to be used for sin, but should join together in the performance of mitzvot (commandments). According to the second interpretation, the etrog, which has both a pleasing taste and a pleasing scent, represents Jews who have achieved both knowledge of Torah and performance of mitzvot.
We messianic believers can add here the knowledge of Yeshua as our Messiah and King. The palm branch, which produces tasty fruit, but has no scent, represents Jews who have knowledge of Torah but are lacking in mitzvot. The myrtle leaf, which has a strong scent but no taste, represents Jews who perform mitzvot but have little or no knowledge of Torah. The willow, which has neither taste nor scent, represents Jews who have no knowledge of Torah and do not perform the mitzvot. We bring all four of these species together on Sukkot to remind us that every one of these four kinds of Jews is important, and that we must remember to pray for Israel (the People).
Also referred to as: temporary dwelling booth
According to Halakha, a sukkah is a structure consisting of 2½, 3, or 4 walls with a roof made of an organic material which has been disconnected from the ground (the s’chach). It should be at least three feet tall, and be positioned so that all or part of its roof is open to the sky (only the part which is under the sky is kosher.) A sukkah can be built on the ground or on an open porch or balcony. Portable sukkahs are available for those who have little space, or for those who are travelling (in order to have a place to eat one’s meals).
A sukkah on an apartment balcony in JerusalemIn practice, the walls of a sukkah can be built from anything ranging from wood to canvas to aluminium, and the roof material can range from pine branches to palm fronds to bamboo. The walls may also be part of a house or fence.
Many people hang decorations such as dried or plastic fruit, streamers, shiny ornaments, and pictures from the interior walls and ceiling beams of a sukkah. Families may also line the interior walls with white sheeting, in order to recall the “Clouds of Glory” that surrounded the Jewish nation during their wanderings in the desert.
Also referred to as: rejoicing with/of the Torah
Tishri 22, the day after the seventh day of Sukkot, is the holiday Shemini Atzeret. In Israel, Shemini Atzeret is also the holiday of Simchat Torah. Outside of Israel, where extra days of holidays are held, only the second day of Shemini Atzeret is Simchat Torah: Shemini Atzeret is Tishri 22 and 23, while Simchat Torah is Tishri 23.
These two holidays are commonly thought of as part of Sukkot, but that is technically incorrect; Shemini Atzeret is a holiday in its own right and does not involve some of the special observances of Sukkot.
We do not take up the lulav and etrog on these days, and our dwelling in the sukkah is more limited. The annual cycle of reading the Torah is completed and begun anew, with the last section of Deuteronomy and the first section of Genesis read in succession after a festival parade of the Torah scrolls amidst singing and dancing.
For better understanding of the holidays we recommend reading The Seven Festivals of Messiah by Edward Chumney, Jewish Root’s & Growing to Maturity by Daniel Juster, God’s Appointed Times by Barney Kasdan and/or Celebrate the Feasts by Martha Zimmerman.