It was the evening before the first day of school, and I had a conversation
with my 7th grade son, Ari. Together, we looked back at his last school year and
thought about the changes he could make in his behavior so that this new year
would be even better. A few minutes into the conversation, Ari said, "You know,
I realize my trap of last year. Everyday I went to school hoping to behave
perfectly. But, the first time I messed up, I immediately gave up. I didn't see
it then, but I see it now. I kind of figured that - once I misbehaved - I may as
well continue in that path."
I felt so happy for Ari that he uncovered this awareness, because armed with
this, he empowers himself to create a plan that will help him circumvent his own
pitfalls. Once he recognizes his patterns and misbehaviors, he could do whatever
it takes to ensure that he avoids them.
Essentially, Ari uncovered the core message of the High Holiday season. The
'work' of Rosh Hashanah, and her partners Yom Kippur and Sukkot, is to take an
honest look at the direction of our lives and see where it is we want to
This self-analysis this doesn't only apply to our behaviors - which are
relatively easy to self-assess, but also to our very relationships.
Relationships are the fabric of our lives. They are the infrastructure and
lifeblood of a meaningful existence. Relationships are mutually-dependant and
dynamic; each party within the relationship thrives on the energy of the other.
Relationships can be very powerful, but...even the most intimate and
deeply-rooted ones can fall into a routine and lose their vibrancy.
High-Holiday season is a time for refocusing on our core relationships, and
recommitting ourselves to keeping them alive. On Rosh Hashanah, we focus
specifically on our relationship with the Divine. We reflect on our dependence
of G-d's love and care, and on G-ds dependence on us to make this world a
meaningful and G-dly place.
The High Holiday season opens with Rosh
Hashanah. On Rosh Hashanah we acknowledge our power to say, Whatever was, was.
However I approached my relationships in the past need not determine how I face
the m in the future. If I allowed my relationships to fall into a rut, from this
moment on, I can be a new person. I will not allow my past patterns and mistakes
to determine the direction of my future. I have the power to declare this a new
Of course, we can do that at any moment in our lives, but on
Rosh Hashanah as we come together as a community, we draw strength from each
other. We each think about our "point of actual" and measure it against our
"point of potential". We take the time to think about who we are, and who we
want to be. We resolve that, "We are going to get there! We are going to
So Rosh Hashanah is a time for new beginnings, sweet
The practices and customs of Rosh Ha shanah serve as
sensory reminders to the holiday's core message:
The Shofar's sound
calls out to us, saying, Don't lose this opportunity for a fresh start. Make
this a new beginning; it's the first day of the rest of your life!
sweet taste of the apple and honey reminds us how life has the capacity to be a
sweet experience, with positive relationships. Let us remember that we often
have the capacity to create our own sweet realities; if we are so inclined, we
can make it happen!
Tashlich is a special waterside prayer ceremony.
With the tranquil backdrop of flowing water, we are reminded, that - just as
water is invigorating, refreshing, and cleansing - we too have the power to rid
ourselves of past negativities, and reshape the destiny of our
May we all use this holiday as an opportunity to recognize that
we can declare that our lives, from hereon, will be sweeter than ever before,
and launch a year in which we live as our best possible selves.