Rosh HaShanah serves a few purposes in the Jewish calendar.
The New Year
Celebrating the cycle of the year is an important way to acknowledge the passing of time. Rosh HaShanah is the announcement of the changing over of the date from one year to the next. This ritual serves to both celebrate and mark the occasion.
Day of JudgmentRosh HaShanah is referred to in the Bible as the “Day of Judgment.” Jewish tradition teaches that on this day, the Book of Life and the Book of Death are opened for God to inscribe each person’s name. The verdict is not made final until Yom Kippur, which occurs 10 days after Rosh HaShanah. Thus, Rosh HaShanah begins a ten-day period of repentance and prayer.
Season of Repentance
The ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are used by Jews to ask forgiveness and seek to right wrongs they may have committed during the previous year. It is a cleansing practice to spend time in this way each year, and Rosh HaShanah helps to create the communal atmosphere of personal repentance.