Rosh Hashanah 5781
By Edith Morgan
The Jewish New Year is coming up – this year will be 5781, probably the oldest continuing celebration of the beginning of another year. (the next oldest seems to be the Chinese, which is well over 4,000 years old, and the Cambodian, which is over 2,500 and the Christian calendar which is 2,020 years old. The newest should be the Mohammedan, which is about 1500 years old.)
Rosh Hashanah, celebrated every year on the first day of Tishri, the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, is the first of the 10-day period culminating in the day of atonement – Yom Kippur.
Most non-Jews are probably acquainted with the two most traditional aspects of this holiday period: the blowing of the “Shofar,” the hollowed-out ram’s horn which is specially treated to be hollow, and curved, so that it emits a haunting sound during this period; and the apple sliced across, with honey on the slice, symbolizing the wish for a full, round and sweet year for all.
This period is dedicated to days of self-examination, reminding ourselves in what ways we have failed ourselves, others, our God – leading then to regretting and remorse, and finally to attempts at restitution where possible.
Then, ultimately, on the day of atonement (Yom Kippur), when we are enjoined to fast and abstain from all pleasurable activities and begin truly the New Year with renewed purpose to do better and improve in all areas.
For me, this period always is an opportunity to stop and reflect on what I regret having done or left undone, and to determine that I can and will do better in the coming year.
We all need a time like this, when we drop everything and “take stock” quietly and “off the clock” – taking a good look in the mirror and seeing if we are really happy with what we see. So much of the time we are plunging headlong into activities, habits and demands that we lose perspective and just blindly run on. Taking a whole day off to stop and think without the distractions of daily life would do us all good. I know it helps me to re-focus and repurpose my life!
So, to all my Jewish friends: I wish for you a full, round, sweet year in 5781. And, if you are not Jewish, enjoy a slice of apple and some honey, as those things are so good for all … and some introspection, repentance and self- improvement is good for us all …