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What are the Three Themes of Rosh Hashanah?

by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort


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In the Musaf Amidah of Rosh Hashanah we include three unique sections, each containing liturgies and verses (from Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim) related to a certain theme of the day.

The three themes are called Malchiyot (Kingship), Zichronot (Remembrances), and Shofrot (Shofars).1 Each of these themes is meant to elicit within us different thoughts and intentions, and each is concluded by the actual sounding of the Shofar2

In Malchiyot, just as trumpets are joyously sounded when a king ascends his throne we sound the Shofar as we reestablish G-d's dominion over us as our King for another year. This also emphasizes the fact that we must serve the Almighty the same way a servant serves his king -- with absolute and total self-nullification. This concept is called Kabalat Ol Malchut Shamayim, which means "Accepting the yoke of Heaven." This type of service is considered most sublime, for we have subjugated our own desires and proclivities to a selfless service of G-d.

In Zichronot we call to G-d to "remember" the dedication of our ancestors as conveyed by, for example, the dramatic story of Abraham and Isaac. G-d commanded Abraham to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. At the last moment, G-d informed Abraham that it was merely a test, and instead of sacrificing Isaac he should sacrifice a nearby ram. By blowing the Shofar, a ram's horn, we remind G-d of the self-sacrifice displayed by both Abraham and Isaac (Isaac was in his thirties when this occurred). We also obviously remind ourselves that we have a grand potential within us to serve our Creator with 100 percent effort and dedication.

The final theme is called Shofrot, in which we evoke various verses describing different symbolisms and powers of the Shofar. The Shofar itself is a reminder of a powerful verse in Psalms.3 When we look at the Shofar we see that the mouthpiece is small and where the sound emanates from is wide. This is like our hearts and G-d's response. As King David said "From the narrow place (meaning his contrite heart) I called G-d, and from breadth G-d answered me." By approaching G-d with a humble heart, we will certainly be answered with glorious revelations.


  • 1. Talmud tractate Rosh Hashanah 32a
  • 2. Unless it is Shabbat, in which case we only recite the thematic verses/liturgy, but don't sound the Shofar.
  • 3. Pslams 118:5


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Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » About
Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » The Prayers

Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Highlight of every prayer, recited silently while standing. Weekday Amidah consists of nineteen blessings, Sabbath and holiday Amidah contains seven blessings.
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
The additional prayer service added (after the morning prayers) on Sabbath, Biblically mandated holidays and the first day of the Jewish month.
Second of the three Jewish Patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. Lived in Canaan (Israel); b. 1712 BCE, d. 1532 BCE.
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
1. Prophets. 2. A collective name for eight of the books of the Bible: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of Twelve Prophets.
The eleven books of Holy Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra (and Nehemiah), and Chronicles.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.