Tishrei is a Hebrew month that is both the 7th month of the year and also (since the second century) referred to in the Mishna1 as the “head” of the year for years, sabbatical cycles, and the jubilee.
In scripture, God sets Nisan (the month of the Exodus from Egypt) as the first month of twelve in a year. The birth of nation Israel, and the giving of Torah sets the year, says the Holy One.
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you” (Exodus 12:1-2)
The Mishnaic sages have taught that Tishrei is the birth month of Creation, therefore Jews see Tishrei as the most central event to ever take place and consider it the head of the year. With such a jam-packed month of set apart events2 in Tishrei, it’s easy to view this month as the spring from which we can draw from to sustain inspiration throughout the months that follow.
I heard someone once note that during Tishrei, we’re either celebrating a holiday or preparing for one! Because of the placement of so many of the High Holy days in Tishrei, (21 out of 29 days of Tishrei are holidays) we have multiple opportunities to connect with our self, family, community, and with God in this month. We have many opportunities to be inspired toward a deeper relationship with self, others, and God. When you think about it this way, you can see how the light of the Holy Days of Tishrei can be released slowly over the course of the year to keep us going on track.
The holiday of Rosh haShannah (head of the year) begins this month. The root letters for the word “year” can provide great insight and inspiration to carry us through into the year.
Shin, nun, hey is the three-letter Hebrew root for three words: “year”, “repeat”, and “change.” Don’t you love paradoxes? How can you both repeat and change? Ah, but that’s the real beauty of life with God, isn’t it? He gives us repeating Holy Days but infuses them with the potential to change us from within! With each cycle on His calendar, we celebrate over and over again. The seasons happen over and over again.
We could do the same things over and over again, be the same person over and over again. Struggle with the same things over and over again.
But we don’t have to.
There is something about knowing and being known by God that changes you. It’s as if each encounter with Him through prayer is a new beginning (change), while retaining all of the relationship from before (repeat). What do I mean? Well, when you spend time with Him, you immediately feel His love for you and His complete acceptance of you. All the close and precious times from before are piled on again, like adding blankets to your feet on a cold winter day. Think of that as a hug from the Father. But at the same time, while in His Presence, you also recognize that as wonderful as it feels, there is something in your life that is preventing even more closeness. And you want more of Him.
When my kids were younger, and they’d see me and my husband going in for a hug, one of them would always wedge themselves between us. Our granddaughter does that now. As cute as a “child sandwich” can be, it’s not exactly the same as a two-person embrace unencumbered. Ever try to hug someone carrying something in their arms? Try giving your child or husband or a friend a hug with a pillow between you. It’s alright, but obviously there’s something in the way. When we’re in the Father’s Presence, we feel His love but we also are more aware of what’s come between us. That’s where the change aspect comes in. When we are in His Presence through prayer, we are more likely to want to purge the sin that separates.
Remember, the root letters for year, repeat and change that happens in Tishrei are the same for all three words. The roots are: shin, nun, and hey. Let’s look at each letter to see what they teach us.3
Shin is the manifest presence of God; his purifying flaming fire which cleanses and removes obstacles.
Nun is the son, heir, or seed and speaks of provision for not only you, but also the future generations to come.
Hey is the tent with an open window, letting in fresh air (Ruach, the Spirit of God). A window that lets in the fresh and blows out the stale. It’s where revelation “brews” and then releases.
It’s no coincidence that Rosh haShannah of Tishrei is commemorated with the blowing of the shofar. According to Jewish tradition, the Creation of man took place on this day, when God breathed (or blew) His breath into man. We listen to the sound of the shofar on this day, perhaps as a memorial to that first breath from God - the giving of a divine soul, a little piece of God.
As life goes on and in the course of a year, the sound of the blowing of that divine spark from God into you grows dimmer with the cares of the world becoming louder. We then turn our attention away from our Life Source breathed in us and onto worldly pursuits and godless answers to life's problems. We forget we are God-breathed creatures, you and I.
But on this day, once a year, (repeat) we are commanded to listen with intent to the sound of the shofar and tune into the Breath that is in us all when God breathed His own breath into humanity.
His Ruach (Spirit) still breathes in and on us.
Tishrei gives us a year, change, and repetition. Being in the Father’s Presence through prayer activates it all. Let’s put the three Hebrew letters into a complete thought. There are a variety of ways to do that. What do you see? This is what I see: the cleansing and purifying One is released into those willing to be changed by the reception of His revelation. I see that if I, or you, want to experience a year of new things, we must choose to live open to the breath of God; not a repetition of life in the natural, but the newness of the supernatural.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
SETTING YOUR VISION
If it is helpful to you to think of Tishrei in terms of a new year or a new beginning, I encourage you to do that. Perhaps you can do some vision setting for the coming year, based on the spiritual changes you want to see in yourself. Some women find it helpful to write it out or draw something like a map or a vision board for these changes.
But please, please remember that you are deeply loved exactly how you are. Chase the goals for spiritual growth, especially as you partner with the Father, letting Him breath on you. But remember that you won’t be more loved by our Father for your efforts. You are already loved to the max!
Happy new year!
1Mishna is the written collection of the Oral Torah and the first major work of the rabbinic literature
2Rosh Hashanah; Yom Kippur; Sukkot; Shemini Atzeret; Simchat Torah
3Thank you Brenda Stroth for this information: be sure to check out her amazing teaching on the aleph beit in The Rooted Kafe member portal