A Jewish Wake-Up Call
This year, as my observant friends go to temple for Rosh Hashanah, I find myself inspired and newly curious about the Jewish holiday. I’m appreciating how the holiday acknowledges the inter-dependence of endings, fresh starts and forgiveness.
As they follow the liturgy from the mahzor and hear the blowing of the shofar (a literal and spiritual wake-up call), my friends are engaged in a ritual for Honorable Closure. Grounded in ancient wisdom, it emphasizes celebration, reflection upon the past year and planning ahead for the next.
Rosh Hashanah literally means ‘head of the year,’ and is viewed by traditional Jewish scholars as marking the completion of the creation of the world, which is a significant and cool thing to acknowledge if you believe it is so.
Thanks to my patient and observant friend, Jeff, this is the first year I absorbed the fact (aha!) that Rosh Hashanah is the only Jewish holiday to span two sunsets. From this I surmise that reflection and completion are highly valued and not to be rushed or overlooked.
The next year, project, relationship, the next anything is always sweeter if the thing proceeding it is tended to with mindfulness and inspired action. It’s worth the time and you save yourself a lot of suffering in the long run.
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the High Holy Days and is followed by Yom Kippur, the ‘day of atonement.’ The ten-day period in between is an opportunity to fess up to our humanity and fallibility, ask for forgiveness, extend mercy, and make amends. We don’t need to wait for a holiday to do this, but why not tap in to the collective intention of millions of people around the world?
Whether you are of the Jewish persuasion or not, as we move into Fall, when nature most supports harvesting and letting go, this can be a good time to take stock:
- What ‘worlds’ have you created (in terms of relationship, work, collaborations, financial impact, social contribution) that are worth celebrating and acknowledging? What are you most proud of accomplishing over the past 3, 6, or 12 months? Where do you need to course correct and can you describe what that looks like?
- What grudges (against self and others) linger that now seem tired and silly? Can you let them go, or at least let them be for now? Identify a difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding, gather your courage and skill, and then speak up. (You’ll be so relieved and freed up.)
- Pick a domain where you desire more equilibrium (finances, relationships, conversations, physical well-being, career, contribution) and identify three things you wish to start and stop doing. Then stop and start doing them.
Two traditional foods that grace Rosh Hashanah are apples (for their healing properties) dipped in honey, which symbolizes the hope for a sweet new year.
L’Shanah Tovah: For a good year!
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