The Jewish holiday of Rosh Ha Shana is just about upon us. The New Year or head of the year as it is literally translated is an exciting and challenging time of the year.
R.H. has the bells and whistles that each Jewish holiday has – food! The customary foods people eat at this time of year are rounded challah with raisins and apples dipped with honey. Neither one of them leaves me swooning for more, but I make sure to have them. After all, I do like traditions. Sweet foods in general will permeate holiday tables to remind us to pray for a sweet new year. Unfortunately, we might not get the idea until too much of the food has been eaten, so it is not a good holiday for diets!
I find R.H. to be one of the more difficult and challenging holidays of the year. This holiday begins a process which is focused on repentance (actually pretty much any re word would have worked there) and hope. We are instructed to pray and ask G-d to forgive us for our misdeeds of the year. We pray that the coming year should be one where we are blessed, recognize those blessings, and fulfill the promise of those blessings.
As I have gotten older, I find I have more to pray for. It’s not just my sports teams winning (by the way, terrible loss for the Eagles last Sunday), doing well in school, and for it to be summer again. I think of my family, friends, work, and the world in general which seems to have gotten both bigger and smaller as I have aged. However, I believe one of the major themes is internal introspection (I wonder what trend therapists have noted about this time of the year). I strive to consider what I have accomplished during the past year and what I would like to accomplish during the coming year. I review my personal growth – both my successes and failings. I am one of those people who is his own harshest critic. Maybe, it is a form of conceit, but I believe that I can and should strive to accomplish great things and do it while being a great person. In the end though, I see that as hope and that is the overriding theme of the holiday and the 10 day period that leads us into Yom Kippur. When I hear that shofar blast on Yom Kippur, I feel invigorated and hopeful that I can make the coming year better than the last. Of course, it will all start with the bagel and lox waiting at home for me. Shana tova.