Rosh Hashanah literally means “the head of the Year.” However, the association of this name, with the festival celebrated at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Tishrei only dates from Talmudic times. In the Torah, the festival is called both Yom Teruah, “the day of blowing the Shofar,” and Yom HaZikkaron, “the day of remembrance.”
The association of this time of the year with a time of renewal probably goes back toExodus 23:16, when Sukkot, the autumn harvest festival, is identified with “the end of the year,” the intention most likely being the completion of the agricultural cycle. But the creative spirit of the Talmudic Rabbis infused Rosh Hashanah as the New Year with a much deeper meaning—the Day of Judgement, in a process called Teshuvah. That word literally means “response” or “return”, but carries with it a number of other associations, including repentance, renewal and, as some 20th century rabbis and scholars have put it, a kind of re-creation of the Self, in dialogue with God.