By Bonnie Chernin
September 27th 2019
Rosh Hashanah is nearly upon us, and we are preparing for the High Holidays with hope, reflection, renewal and for some…a sense of dread. Some Jews view Rosh Hashanah in a negative light, with apprehension and fear. Will we be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year? Or will G-d examine our sins and decree His punishment to be harsh and unforgiving? We define Divine judgment as all or none, black and white, and final. No grey area.
We tend to see G-d through our own limited human lens and definition of judgment, which is not what the High Holy Days are about. G-d’s judgment is not defined in a human dictionary. He is a G-d of many attributes, including Mercy, and we need to remember that part. As a reminder, Jews often recite Psalm 130 on Rosh Hashanah, which is a call for G-d’s redemption and a reminder of His Mercy.
G-d is not vengeful – this is a restrictive and negative construct that does not serve us as Jews on a personal level, in relationships or when interacting with others.
Our prayers to Hashem are for His blessings and forgiveness in our hopes for a fruitful, sweet and productive year. He is aware that we may have come up short in our promises and that we’ve made mistakes we regret. By remembering our mistakes and asking forgiveness we show our remorse, and we will find peace with G-d. Ours is a forgiving G-d. He does not expect perfection in us, just to be our best selves as He has created us.
Rosh Hashanah means the Head of the Year, and there is a mission that is sometimes hidden that each of us as a unique human being needs to fulfill. Think about revealing your mission so you can achieve renewal and positive change. Change requires action. How can you change your situation today when you are so worried about what will happen in the future?
For change to happen in 5780, welcome each day with a new understanding of doing teshuvah, and that
means returning to G-d every day for renewal. The year 5780 is called the year of redemption. Consider your most redeeming qualities. Cultivate your good qualities and do something meaningful every day. When in doubt about something, show restraint in your speech. Letting go of limiting beliefs is a liberating experience.
G-d did not intend for us to seek His forgiveness when we are preoccupied with personal judgments, insurmountable shame, fear or guilt. This is the time to remember what went wrong, how we can correct past mistakes and improve our lives.
During the Ten Days of Repentance, it is important to be introspective and commit to doing good deeds. By giving charity, attending services and connecting with others in the Jewish community, we can effect positive change in the world. We ask for forgiveness from people we have hurt. Sometimes it is not possible, so do what you can.
Rosh Hashanah commemorates G-d’s creation of the world, and of Adam and Eve. Tishrei is a month of creation. According to tradition, the blast of the shofar is a call to repentance for the Jewish people. G-d is accessible to us and He is listening. During the Ten Days of Repentance, He is especially aware of the prayers of each and every one of us.
The best way to know that G-d is there for us is to be there for G-d. Teshuvah should not be a temporary thing. Show up all year for G-d, not just on Rosh Hashanah.
Why not see today – this unique day that you are alive - as a day to experience growth, self-examination and improvement. What is your mission and purpose? My mission is to end abortion and provide resources that can help heal post-abortive women. My hope is to see a day when every unborn child is protected as a human being with potential. My purpose is to continue to involve myself in pro-life activities until a Personhood Amendment is passed to protect unborn children.
If I only lived for that future and got anxious over pro-abortion politicians, abortion policies, elections and obstacles in my way, I would not be able to do the pro-life actions that I take each day. I always keep my hopes high and my expectations in check. You can do the same.
Don’t think about what you will do tomorrow or for the entire year. You only have today, and no one is infallible. Did you know that by January 9th most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions? Likewise, on October 18th (nine days after Yom Kippur) will you give up on your resolutions to G-d? Will you forget about the promises you made for self-improvement in 5780? Or will you embrace each day with joy, enthusiasm, a sense of purpose and appreciation for the life that G-d created just for you?
If you can answer that one last question with a resounding “YES!”, then you are all set.
Copyright 2019 by Bonnie Chernin.