The Western Wall (Kotel)
The Western Wall (Kotel) Israel news photo: Hana Levi Julian

Jews gathered at the Western Wall in the wee hours of Monday morning, and more flocked to the mystical Galilee village of Meron later in the day, to pray for peace and to mark the anniversary of the first day of the Creation 3,761 years before the common era (BCE) -- heralding the countdown to the Jewish New Year.



Monday morning prayers at Kotel, video courtesy of yeshiva.org.il.

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The events that took place on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Elul -- its Jewish date -- the creation of existence, time, matter, darkness and light, are recounted for the generations in the very first chapter of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis.

The holiday of Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year) actually is celebrated on the sixth day, when man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created. It is from this point that the Jewish calendar begins its countdown to the time of the Messiah, when peace will reign throughout the world.

Also on this day, the Talmudic sage Rabbi Elazar, son of the famed Kabbalist and sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, returned his soul to the Creator in the second century of the common era (2 CE).

Thousands of Jews flocked to Meron on Monday, where Rabbi Elazar hid in a cave with his father during the Roman occupation, to commemorate the "hillula," -- the anniversary of his death. (Even more stream into the site each during during the springtime holiday of Lag B'Omer, to celebrate the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Elazar's father, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar.)

There are a number of other significant events that took place on this date as well.

One, which occurred in the year 3426 (335 BCE), was the completion  of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by the prophet Nehemia. The city's walls had been laid waste during the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian commander, Nebuchadnezzar, and the destruction of the First Temple by his forces. The event is recounted in the Book of Nehemia.

This coming Friday evening will mark the beginning of the holiday of Rosh HaShanah, which starts with the advent of the Sabbath at sunset.

The two-day holiday is celebrated by Jews the world over with a variety of traditions, but among them runs the common theme that expresses the hope that all in the House of Israel may be inscribed in the Book of Life for a sweet and successful year.