The New Shul

Parshat Nitzavim/Rosh Hashanah

Ordinarily, on the Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh (the new moon), we say birkat ha-hodesh, the blessing that announces the coming of the new month. The one exception is this Shabbat, the Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh Tishrei/Rosh Hashanah. There is no blessing to announce the coming of the month of Tishrei.

The Shem Mi-Shmuel offers an explanation:  The reason why we say birkat ha-hodesh on the Shabbat before every other Rosh Hodesh is to take  some of the holiness of Shabbat and push it forward into the coming month. That way, the new month gets off to a good start by drawing on the sanctity of the Shabbat before it. But Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world, which had no Shabbat before it. Rosh Hashanah reminds us of our ability to make a fresh start, to create ourselves anew, as if we had no past.

In many respects, we are products of our history. We are defined by our genetic inheritance, by our upbringing, and by decisions that we made long ago. But Rosh Hashanah teaches us that we are also more than that. We have the ability to make choices that have no antecedent, that come, in a sense, from nowhere, in that they are just that: choices.

That realization brings with it a deep sense of responsibility. It also brings great joy. May this season be, for all of us, a time of new beginnings.

  • Shabbat services at The New Shul are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Our learning services for children this Shabbat are at the following times: for toddlers and pre-schoolers from 11 to 11:30 am, and for grades 1 to 3 from 11 to 11:45 am.
  • Our service for Erev Rosh Hashanah is on Sunday evening September 13 at 6 pm. Services for the both days of Rosh Hashanah, Monday and Tuesday September 14 and 15, begin at 8:15 am, and are followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all. Complete information on our services for the Days of Awe is available here.