Here’s a question I received on Facebook that is the same question I and everyone has early on in their “Torah keeping” adventure:
Seeing several people/sites claiming today (Sept 5) is the Feast of Trumpets (or Rosh Hashanah) .. your site lists Sept 8 and I’ve seen others list the 6th, 7th or 9th…. How come we have so much disagreement over something that should be pretty straightforward?
Actually, it was only straightforward for the people to whom the holy days were originally given to keep; ancient Israel. The rest of us, now some 3500 years later who it was not given to, must deal with many ambiguities in the written text all on our own. Some use Jewish tradition to resolve them (Jewish calendar), others astronomy (equinox calendar), others Karaite scholarship (aviv barley calendar) among other permutations.
What is missed by most today is that the Torah did not just drop out of the sky to be read on its own or followed by anyone who comes along. It was given to a specific people and given with key assistance. Namely, ancient Israel was given the Torah through the prophet Moses. When Israel had any question on what to do or what God’s will was in a matter, they could ask the prophet (or later, the priest with the urim and thumim). If he did not know the answer, he was able to inquire of God directly and get the answer reliably. No debate, no division, no doubts (like today).
There are a few examples of this in the Old Testament: 1. The man caught collecting wood on Sabbath, (Nu 15:33-36); 2. the blaspheming son (Lev 24:12-14); and 3. the question about the inheritance for the Daughters of Zelophehad (Nu 27:4-6). In addition they had the judges and Levites to explain what the Torah meant.
In contrast to this, anyone reading
the Torah today is missing that key component for understanding it. It’s like trying to operate a complicated proprietary system for your business by reading only the owner’s manual without the onsite company trainer sent to answer all the questions that come up in reading the manual. It’s a recipe for confusion and frustration.
This crucial problem is one of the several reasons why I had to abandon “Torah keeping” years ago.