The Gates Are Open!
Saturday, Sept. 19th – The Altar of Incense
What is Yom Teruah?
One of the unique things about Yom Teruah is that the Scriptures do not say what the purpose of this holy day is. The Scriptures gives at least one reason for all the other holy days and two reasons for some. The Feast of Passover (Unleavened Bread) commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, but it is also a celebration of the beginning of the barley harvest (Exodus 23:15; Leviticus 23:4–14). The Feast of Shavuot (Weeks) is a celebration of the wheat harvest (Exodus 23:16; 34:22). Yom Kippur is a national day of atonement as described in great detail in Leviticus 16. Finally, the Feast of Sukkot (Booths) commemorates the wandering of the Israelites in the desert and is also a celebration of the ingathering of agricultural produce (Exodus 23:16). In contrast to all these Torah festivals, Yom Teruah has no clear purpose other than that we are commanded to rest on this day.
Nevertheless, the name of Yom Teruah provides a clue as to its purpose. Teruah literally means to make a loud noise. This word can describe the noise made by a trumpet but it also describes the noise made by a large gathering of people shouting in unison (Numbers 10:5–6). For example,
“And it shall come to pass when the ram’s horn makes a long blast, when you hear the sound of the shofar, the entire nation will shout a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall in its place, and the people shall go up as one man against it.”
In this verse, the word “shout” appears twice, once as the verb form of Teruah and a second time as the noun form of Teruah. Although this verse mentions the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn), the two instances of Teruah do not refer to the shofar. In fact, in this verse, Teruah refers to the shouting of the Israelites which was followed by the fall of the walls of Jericho.
While the Scriptures do not explicitly tell us the purpose of Yom Teruah, its name may indicate that it is intended as a day of public prayer. The verb form of Teruah often refers to the noise made by a gathering of the faithful calling out to the Almighty in unison. For example:
“Clap hands, all nations, shout to God, with a singing voice!” (Psalms 47:2)
“Shout to God, all the earth!” (Psalms 66:1)
“Sing to God, our strength, shout to the God of Jacob!” (Psalms 81:2)
“Shout to Yehovah, all the earth!” (Psalms 100:1)
We invite you to come and “shout” with the Community of Beit Tehila. For more information on how to celebrate Yom Teruah, please call our ministry office at 813-654-2222.