Rosh Hashanah – Looking Towards A Better New Year
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it is our time for renewal and reflection. I've been struggling with things I've held on to for too long, and this New Year, I am ready to let go. Rosh Hashanah gives me a yearly reset of life. When I face a new year full of changes and challenges, I don't want to head into it with the clutter and negativity looming over me.
For religious Jews, it is the end of the year, the end of this chapter in our lives. For many people, it is a chance to look back at the year and reflect on what was good, what could have gone better, and how we must strive to improve ourselves for the next point in our lives.
Just like the New Year calendar, Rosh Hashanah is when we reflect on the year behind us and the year to come. This holiday is about looking inward, facing some personal judgment, and seeking redemption.
Rosh Hashanah shows us another way to see our year as moments and opportunities to let go and move forward with a clear heart. I love the realization that all of us are only here for a short time. We don't have time to sit in regret or soak in anger. These High Holy days recognize that we each have a special light; we just have to stay focused on being part of the light when our days feel crazy and dark.
It's the 48 hours where we get to reboot our spiritual lives and get a clean start.
The Day of Teshuvah (Repentance) and Forgiveness
One of the critical parts of Rosh Hashanah is making amends. We all have done something that we need to fix, seek forgiveness, or let go. It is said that throughout the Ten Days of Awe – Jews are required to ask forgiveness. Perhaps you know you need to face a family member and talk about what happened or just apologize for taking out the frustration we have felt in our lives on the people we love.
It is also about seeking forgiveness from G*D. I love this personal conversation between me and G*D, and it's a reminder that the relationship that I want to have with my religion is truly up to me. This conversation about forgiveness in my life comes both ways. I also have to let go of anger when I feel like G*D didn't help me in the ways I believed would help. How many times have you felt disappointed in your prayers? For me, it happens often, and it is hard to stay solid in a faith that you feel doesn't return the affections.
When is Rosh Hashanah?
Due to the Jewish calendar being based on the lunar cycle, Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year”) falls on the first and second days of Tishri, and is the first of ten days called the Jewish High Holy Days. It is commonly referred to as the Jewish New Year, where we examine our own lives and deeds.
What do you do?
Like many fall celebrations, Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of G*d's creation of the world, and the efforts that we have made throughout the year that are all coming together.
Many Jews take this time and attend a synagogue. At services, a shofar ( a hollowed-out ram's horn) is blown. It is a call to announce the time for reflection is here. Our family, as well as others, take part in a tradition called tashlich, it means “casting off” in Hebrew. We gather at a nearby river or lake and throw pieces of bread, which signifies the washing away of sin and things that have weighed us down. It also feels like it is taking the sad and frustrating parts of our year and letting them float away and be eaten by the fishes.
Rosh Hashanah meals usually are full of the bounty of the year's garden. We also include apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year. We also serve round challah (a sweet braided bread) symbolizing the circle of life.
More importantly, it is a time to bring everyone together, friends and family, and sit and talk and enjoy the bounty of love that you have cultivated through this year.
Why Rosh Hashanah is essential to me
I love this moment that we are asked to stop for a few days and think clearly about our lives and who we are. We work so hard, and it is hard to see the rewards that are actually right in front of us without that reflection. It is this soul-searching that allows us to see the adverse actions and influences in our lives, and strive to do better.
We have this window of time that we can dig in deep and search for the meaning in our lives and come out clean from the dirt that we all have been part of in some way.
Today we remember that who we ARE isn't the accumulation of wealth, the number of social media followers, or even your physical body. Who we are is made up of the efforts we made to make a difference, the efforts we made to make this a better world for everyone.
No matter your color, your age, your gender, your religion, we all have a part to play. Don't let your part be the role of harboring negativity or contributing to the hate. I know I have some time I need to spend dealing with the hurt I've felt. It's hard letting go, but it's time.