Photo Courtesy of Gilabrand
Tonight at sundown, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah--the Jewish New Year--begins.
Growing up, I felt fairly "meh" about Rosh Hashanah. Yes, hearing the shofar is always pretty cool (and impressive), and apples dipped in honey is delicious, but overall, as a child I didn't really see this as one of the big, exciting holidays of the year. This was despite the fact that it is, according to tradition, one of the holiest days of the year.
As I got older, I started to appreciate the sense of renewal inherent in Rosh Hashanah. For instance, as an adult, one of my favorite Rosh Hashanah traditions is Tashlikh, which is the "casting off" of sins. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, you go to a flowing body of water, and cast pieces of bread--representing your sins from the previous year--into the water. I'm a big believer in pairing a psychological mindset with a physical action, so the practice of Tashlikh gives me a lovely, concrete way to think about what I want to do differently for the year ahead. Watching the ball drop, drinking champagne, and kissing J on secular New Year's just doesn't provide the same sense of renewal and turning over a new leaf.
I also love that Rosh Hashanah gives me yet another chance to take control of my life. That tired old saying about today being the first day of the rest of my life is absolutely true. And it's as true on January 1 as it is on my birthday, as it is on the first day of Spring, as it is on Rosh Hashanah, as it is on the day I buy myself the newest in a long line of planners, because maybe this one will finally make me organized.
But we mere mortals often get bogged down in the daily details of our lives, and we forget that we have the opportunity at every moment to change, to improve, to learn--in short, to be the masters of our fates: the captains of our souls. We need the reminders coming from holidays like Rosh Hashanah and traditions like Tashlikh to remember that we are works in progress, and that we can make changes and leaps whenever we want to.
So, even though Rosh Hashanah got a big ol' shrug of the shoulders from me when I was a child, I now embrace the opportunity to spend an entire day every year thinking about how and where I want my life to go. I am thankful for that opportunity--and I hope to do my best with it tomorrow.
L'shana tovah tikatev v'taihatem! May you be inscribed and sealed for
a good year!
When are you inspired to look back and look forward? How do you remember to be the captain of your soul?