It’s that time of year again when the men are rummaging through their cupboards and dusting off their tallis bags, the mothers are preparing their outfits for the community to see, the teenagers are baffled that they have to go to shul post Bnei Mitzvot and the little ones are silent in the corner and asking “why?” Little ones are so elegant with words.
Everyone knows what Rosh Hashannah is. The New Year, new beginnings, there’s a fish head on the table and you’ve got a cold lunch waiting for you at home after shul. It’s one of the 2 days where all the Jews come out to play because it is seen as an important one, but why? Why should we be reflecting on things and what should we be thinking about? Reflection is a very difficult process. It’s not as easy as addressing the wrongs of the past and the hopes for the future. You have to actually do something about it.
To reflect on something as big as a year you need time. Time has become a monetary entity, we trade time like a tangible unit and will only give it up for what we deem as important, it’s something you never get back once you decide to use it. Doe Zantamata put it nicely saying, “Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” These holidays lets trade our time for just being. Find the time to sit and think, it is often hiding right under your nose.
One can only grow from self-reflection if it’s honest. Even if the realisation is seemingly negative the fact that it was realised can only be positive. Having a strong respect for the past will put you in a good position to take on the future and Rosh Hashannah has provided the Jewish people with a way doing this.
Rosh Hashannah will always be big family dinners, round challah with raisins and apples dipped in honey followed by the age old debate of red vs green apples. Like most Jewish festivals Rosh Hashannah is laced with tradition and practice, food, friends and family. This year the challenge has gone out to not let it be another day in the life, don’t let another New Year go by and say, “I did it, I did the high holy days” make it meaningful and useful. So many Jewish festivals serve purposes that are often forgotten about.
This New Year I will be thinking about my new move half way across the world to the depth of the unknown and the challenges that lay ahead. I will be reflecting on the relationships I have left behind and the new ones flourishing in my present. I will be challenging my values and addressing the success and failures of their manifestation in my life and striving for change. I will be thinking about the way I treat the environment and think of ways to live a more ethical and sustainable lifestyle. Most importantly I will be battling with my mistakes and finding solutions to learn from and never repeat them again.
I set a task for the Habonim Dror community these holidays, to find the time wherever it is hiding and just be. Be simple with your thoughts and honest with your hearts, even if for just a moment.
I can’t tell anyone what to think about this New Years but I can leave you with a message and I think Huxley said it best when he said, “Men do not learn very much from the lessons of history and that is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Not this year.
Shannah Tova U’Metuka