The New Year often brings about resolutions, goals, and intentions to live a more fulfilled and happy life. While the Jewish New Year is not technically a holiday – it’s just the first day of the Jewish calendar year – it is still a time of reflection, introspection and looking forward optimistically to the new year ahead. The High Holy Days are filled with rituals and practices that test us, challenge us, and hopefully bring us closer to God – as well as our fellow man. As we move into Tishrei (the month with two new moons), there are several steps you can take to prepare for an unforgettable Rosh Hashanah:
The key to a successful year is to take care of yourself. That means taking the time to make sure you are physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy and ready to face what the year ahead may bring. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean being selfish or ignoring the needs of others. It means being able to show up for others fully, and to make positive contributions to the world. Healthy habits can help you to do that, and support you during times of challenge. Some ways you can take care of yourself include:
At the beginning of each New Year, take some time to reflect on the past year. What were the highlights? What were the low points? What did you learn? What did you leave behind? What are you bringing with you into the New Year? It is said that the Jewish New Year marks the day when we enter into a new book of life. What do you want to put in that book? What do you want to leave behind?
New Year is a time when we can experience new beginnings. It is also a time when we can face our past. Every New Year, there are those we should have spoken to but never did. There are those who deserve an apology from us. There are those who deserve an apology from us but we don’t have the courage to do so. There are those who have been carrying their pain for too long, and we are the only ones who can help them heal. The Jewish New Year is a time to reflect and take stock of our relationships. Have there been any relationships that have been left unresolved? If so, this New Year is a great time to ask for forgiveness and to provide closure to those relationships.
Every New Year, we are given the opportunity to turn toward goodness. But what does it really mean to turn toward goodness? The word “towards” doesn’t mean that we are going to do goodness. Rather, it means that we are going to become more aware of the goodness that is already inside us. Turning toward goodness is a process of letting go of the ego and letting go of the self-centeredness that we often fall into. It is a process of connecting to the higher part of ourselves – the part of ourselves that is connected to goodness. Turning toward goodness is something that we can only do when we are ready to let go of ourselves and our ego. It’s about letting go of the need and desire to control, to judge, and to criticize. Turning toward goodness means letting go of our unhealthy addictions. It means letting go of our unhealthy habits. And lastly, turning toward goodness means letting go of the bad and unhealthy relationship we have with ourselves.
The New Year is the time to turn our attention towards others in need. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and let our attention towards others be lessened. Turning our attention towards others in need is an essential part of teshuvah – which is one of the key themes of the High Holy Days. Turning towards others in need is an essential part of the process of becoming a more empathetic and compassionate person. Turning our attention towards others in need can be as simple as donating a blood type, volunteering with a local charity, or even going out of your way to help a stranger in some small way. Doing so helps us to connect to that higher part of ourselves – and helps us turn towards goodness.
The New Year is a time to set intentions and make resolutions. What do you want to do with your life? How do you want to be remembered? The New Year is a time for change and for growth. Are you ready to embrace the new year ahead? Are you ready to welcome the New Year in? As we move from Tishrei into Cheshvan, we have the opportunity to start anew and to prepare for a wonderful New Year.