Rosh Hashanah: acceptable paganism in Messianic Judaism

This holiday, named Rosh Hashanah, bothers me every year it rolls around.  A lot of truth with just a little paganism is not truth at all.  What does God honor when it isn’t pure?

After service today I asked a friend “Why do you celebrate Rosh Hashanah?”.  His response was logical and acceptable.  His response was “Well, it is the Jewish New year, that is why”.  I tend to ask questions to get people thinking.  I’m sure that this drives people crazy and causes them to dodge me at synagogue, but I would much rather have people thinking than just accepting teachings without question.

Gentiles that did not grow up learning traditional Jewish teachings they have a lot to learn when they join the Messianic movement.  There is a lot to learn about the feasts and festivals and no one really questions the roots of the festivals when they are taught as truth and Biblical.  They all assume that what is taught wouldn’t have pagan roots.  I did, for a while.

There are two holidays celebrated tomorrow, Rosh Hashanah (the Babylonian new year) and Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets).  One is pagan, one is Biblical.  Rosh Hashanah is treated as the Jewish new year because paganism has crept into Judaism.  Because of that, it has crept into Messianic Judaism and very little emphasis is placed on the Biblical feast.

Here is what the Bible commands for Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets):

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’ ” (Leviticus 23:23-25)

The Bible doesn’t say, “It is a new year, dip the apples in honey so you have a sweet new year” as is traditional for Rosh Hashanah.  In fact, the Bible says when the new year is and it surely isn’t in the seventh month of the Jewish new year.  The new year is in the first month, duh!  Somehow we have lost our way and have learned the ways of the nations and it seems very few have a problem with this.

Here is what the Bible says (in short) about learning the ways of the nations:

And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. (Leviticus 20:23)

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.  (Deuteronomy 18:9)

Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the practices of the peoples are worthless; (Jeremiah 10:2-3a)

The Babylonian nation had a similar lunar calendar to the Biblical lunar calendar.  The Biblical new year is in the Spring.  The first day of the first month of the Babylonian new year often fell on the first day of the seventh month of the Biblical commanded day of Yom Teruah.  During the Babylonian captivity the Jewish people learned the way of the nations, just as the Bible commanded them not to.

They picked up the pagan new year, and not only that, they picked up the pagan months.  When you hear the Jewish months like “Nisan” and “Tammuz” know that they aren’t Biblical, they are Babylonian.  Think about the month of Tammuz, Tammuz was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation.  (Wikipedia entry about Tammuz)

I know this is my second post about this “Holy day” or holiday, maybe I should let it go, but it is difficult to do so when I see God’s commanded days replaced (partially or not) with pagan traditions.  In my perfect world Rosh Hashanah wouldn’t be mentioned, and the phrase “L’shanah tovah!” would be said around Passover, the true new year.


  1. Cindy Clough on May 31, 2018 at 1:33 am

    Hi Aaron, I’ve started reading your blog since our recent trip to Israel. That trip was life-changing – some of it I am enjoying, some of it is making me study history (Biblical & non-biblical related). There have been a few changes that God has made in my life & a few I can tell He is working on. It’s not unlike having a necessary surgery (not fun, but needed)… I am wondering if you have resolved the issue mentioned here – Rosh Hashanah vs Yom Teruah. By the way, I loved your comment, “I tend to ask questions to get people thinking. I’m sure that this drives people crazy and causes them to dodge me at synagogue, but I would much rather have people thinking than just accepting teachings without question.”

    • Aaron Reimann on May 31, 2018 at 1:48 am

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for going on the trip. It was awesome!

      I’m sorry I don’t write more on this site. I feel like I run out of things to talk about, so if you have suggestions, reach out.

      I still don’t have a good solution for this holiday. Let’s take Yom Teruah out of the equation. Rosh Hashanah was the first day of the year for the calendar that the rest of the world used. We all celebrate December 31st right? I’m sure there are pagan roots for January 1st, right? Are we supposed to ignore society’s calendar?

  2. Cindy Clough on June 1, 2018 at 12:19 am

    An awesome trip, indeed! You warned us all that it would be life-changing.

    I’ve just started this journey of intentionally questioning my traditional celebrations. For a long time I’ve been under the impression that commercialism was the main concern, but now my eyes are being opened to pagan roots in so many celebrations – even birthdays. I do enjoy meaningful symbolism & ritual, but not at the expense of my relationship with my Father. The commandments and laws of the Old Testament that are summed up in Matthew & Mark mean to me that honoring and loving the Lord comes before going along with the traditions of family/friends (i.e. society). And it seems that when we love the Lord, we sometimes disappoint our loved ones – meaning the loved ones don’t always understand or support our decisions. I think this “disappointment” is mostly because they feel threatened to change or think about their “why’s.”

    Thanks for the invitation to make suggestions for posts; I’ll do that.

    • Aaron Reimann on June 1, 2018 at 12:37 am

      Questioning is very important. It is critical to question it, even if you wind up with the same perspective, at least you will know why you do what you do, and can defend it.

      Like I said (at least I tried to say this) at the Pool of Siloam: Now you have a lot of facts, which is great. Understanding is how you can apply them to your life. Actually applying them is how we obtain wisdom.

      … and hit me up with topics!

Leave a Comment

Other Random Posts: