New years are times for new beginnings, and as Jews in the Western world, we get more than one crack at a new year.
There’s the Gregorian civil calendar’s New Year, which falls, conveniently enough, on January 1. And there’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, beginning this evening at sundown, the first day of the month of Tishrei.
[Strangely enough, Tishrei is actually the seventh month of the Jewish calendar: Nisan, the month in which Passover falls, is the first month. But the new year begins on the first of Tishrei, and that’s when 5771 becomes 5772. Go figure.]
New years are times for new beginnings, and as both Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm prepare to relocate - the first to Philadelphia, the second to rural Connecticut - I can only pray that their own New Beginnings in New Places are everything they hope for.
As the sun sets today, it ushers in a ten-day period of repentance and introspection, the Aseret Y’mei T’shuvah, a period that reaches its spiritual climax with the solemn Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. It’s the perfect time of year to do a little self-assessment and to repair the cracks and fissures in our relationships with friends, family, and the world at large.
Houston Steve, who is a Past Master of making statements of profound simplicity and simple profundity, says that we could boil down all of the Yom Kippur confessional prayers to one little nugget: Forgive us for not doing the right thing. (All the rest, as Hillel might have said, is commentary.)
It’s a request that can be directed at The Big Guy, but it works at least as well when asked of one’s fellow humans... and so, Esteemed Reader, if I have not Done the Right Thing during this past year, please forgive me. And please accept my wishes for a safe, sweet, and healthy New Year, without limit to any good thing - whether your year begins this evening at sundown or not.