Huberman Rosh HashannaYom KippurSukkot

  • Issue: August 1991
  • Designer: O. & E. Schwarz
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 132 - 134
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Rosh Hashana - the Jewish New Year

There is no evidence from the Bible of special rituals relating to the New Year. In those times it was customary to mark the New Month with ceremonies and sacrifices and it is likely that some of these were adopted on the New Year. Moreover, the New Year was celebrated over several days rather than one day. In Biblical times, the months of the year started with the month of Nissan, so that the month of Tishrei, which today starts the New Year, was then the seventh month. The calendar of festivals listed in the Pentateuch specifies a festival on the first day of the seventh month called "Remembrance of the Blowing of the Horn" (Leviticus, XXXIII, 24) which the Rabbis determined was the New Year. The name "Remembrance of the Blowing of the Horn" was interpreted as meaning God remembers his creatures - in other words, a day of judgement, on which God judges the world. On this account the New Year has throughout the generations been connected with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the days between the two Festivals became "The Ten Days of Penitence".

The New Year is a festival with many customs. Throughout the previous month of Ellul it is customary to blow the ram's horn each morning following special penitential prayers. On the festival itself special foods are eaten, and there is a ceremony for throwing one's sins into running water which carries them away. The New Year stamp depicts some of the festival's customs. An illustration of a man blowing the ram's horn forms the centre of the stamp. As it s said in the Torah, this is an essential part of the festival. The lower part of the stamp shows a ram's head, a motif from the story of the binding of Isaac (Gen. XXII) which also represents the symbolic expression of being at the head and not the tail. On the tab are the sun, the moon and the stars which relate to the Rabbis' conception that the New Year is the anniversary of the Creation of the Universe.

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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, was determined in the Torah as a day of purification: "For on that day will He forgive you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord." (Leviticus, XVI, 30). When the Temple was in existence, a splendid ceremony took place there on Yom Kippur. The Holy of Holies, which was closed throughout the year, was opened for the High Priest, and he himself sacrificed special offerings which were designed to purify the Priests, the Congregation of Israel and the Temple. After the destruction of the Temple and the sacrificial service could no longer take place, emphasis was placed on the individual atonement of every Jew, who was obliged to repent his sins, and resolve before God to be a better person.

Over the years, many traditions have become connected to Yom Kippur. At the top edge of the stamp, we see a cock symbolizing the "Penitence Cock", which was connected to a Babylonian Yom Kippur ritual, dating from the 7th century. Though the great Rabbi Joseph Caro pronounced it a "foolish custom", it spread to many Jewish communities around the world. The stamp depicts several other customs of the Holy Day. In the centre, a father is shown blessing his children: this relates to the custom of blessing the children before going to synagogue. At the bottom of the stamp are two men blowing the ram's horn, with a Scroll of the Torah between them. On the tab are the Scales of Justice.

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The Festival Sukkot (Tabernacles)

The Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), also called the Harvest Festival, falls on the 15th of the month of Tishrei. The Festival lasts for seven days and is followed on the eighth day by a special festival called Shemini Atzeret, meaning the Eighth Day of Holy Convocation. The People of Israel are commanded, throughout the seven days of Sukkot, to dwell in temporary booths covered only with vegetation. This is to recall the booths that the Children of Israel lived in following the Exodus from Egypt.

A further commandment of the festival is that of the "Four Species": "And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of the citrus tree, branches of palm trees and the boughs of thick-leaved trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days". (Leviticus, XXIII, 40). The Rabbis deliberated on many topics connected with the Festival of Sukkot, and a whole treatise of the Talmud, Sukka, is devoted to these issues.

On the Festival of Sukkot stamp we see a family sitting in a booth. The booth is decorated with colourful awnings and fruit, as has been the custom since ancient times. Three of the four species appear on the upper section of the stamp: the citrus fruit, the palm branch and the myrtle leaves. According to Jewish legend, the "Four Secies" represent four types of Jew, since each species has a different combination of, or lack of, taste and smell and so when they are all combined, each one makes up for what is missing in the other.

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Festival stamps 5752 (1991)