Quick! What’s the name of the person most blameworthy for your biggest failure? Hint: You’ll find it printed on your driving license. Nobody is without regrets about opportunities squandered, lesser paths chosen, or challenges spurned. One of the reasons that New Year makes us feel good is that we see it as a chance for a fresh start.
Of course, by February, most of us have forgotten our resolutions and slid back to the languor of last year. Then, we feel bad and attribute our dismay to the darker days of winter rather than to the sad recognition that the opportunity for another new beginning won’t come around for months.
However, it needn’t be that way. There is a powerful message of renewal for all in next week’s celebration of Rosh HaShana, incorrectly translated as Jewish New Year. The good news is that just as we are responsible for our failures, we also have the power to bring about renewal and change in our lives.
The Torah festivals (Leviticus 23) are all associated with events in Jewish history.
Passover—On the 15th day of the first month, God took Israel out of Egypt.
Shavuot—Fifty days after the Exodus God gave the Torah to Moses.
Sukot—…I made them dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 23:43)
Yom Kippur—On the 10th day of the seventh month Moses descended with the second set of Tablets.
However, Rosh HaShana, literally the head of the year, observed on the 1st and 2nd day of the seventh month, is not linked to any occasion in Jewish history.
Rosh HaShana floats through time, connected to renewal rather than to a specific event. For instance, the day on which the prophet Elisha brought the Shunamite woman’s son back to life was Rosh HaShana.
And it was the day, and he came there…
(II Kings 4:11)
Though no date is mentioned, a clue is given in the use of the word HaYoM, –“The Day” which Scripturally alludes to the renewing power of Rosh HaShana.
In this way, Rosh HaShana has a more universal theme than the other holydays. The coming days are, as I explain in my audio CD, Day for Atonement, especially suited for God and us to judge our actions and redirect our behavior. Rosh HaShana means Head of the Year, not New Year. We invest great effort in each facet of ‘The Day’ planning for it to direct the following months as our heads direct our bodies.
Rosh HaShana provides three effective strategies for new beginnings:
1) Don’t do it now. Instead of the usual, “Don’t delay—do it today!” set a formal date a few days ahead for your change regime to commence. Declare a date and imbue it with significance. Jews start preparing for Rosh HaShana thirty days in advance. On the day itself, we hear one hundred blasts of the shofar (Leviticus 23:24) which make the day feel enormously significant and quite unforgettable.
2) Set up accountability. Rosh HaShana is a communal not a private event. Each of us attending services in the synagogue is there for the same purpose—introspection and self-judgment. Whatever change you’re determined to bring about, involve others. Include friends and family in your plans. Announcing one’s commitment to change is helpful.
3) Talk to yourself and to God. On Rosh HaShana we constantly remind ourselves aloud of the ever seeing eye of the King of Kings, the Judge of all, who sees everything and expects us to fulfill our potential. Give yourself pep talks when there’s nobody around to make you self-conscious. Ask God to help you and share your successes and failures with Him.
These strategies will help the name on your driving license become the person who brings success and achievement into your life.
New Year, New You!
We are nearing the beginning of Jewish year 5782, as well as students and families are headed back to school for a new year. Chart a fresh course for your life with journaling challenges from Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin. They willguide you through a year’s worth of building an improved life through consistent, step-by-step action.
Chart Your Course: 52 Weekly Journaling Challenges
Regular price: $14.95
On sale through Labor Day for only $10.00
We provide a weekly challenge, Bible reference and inspiration. Track your thoughts, actions and progress throughout the week. Relish your personal growth as you move through the year.