The differences between Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the secular New Year celebrations are very distinct. RH (Rosh Hashanah) isn’t televised all over the world in a live celebration including rap stars, singers, or Ryan Seacrest. People don’t wait in line for 24 hours in the freezing cold to watch a ball drop, ticker tape is a big no-no in a synagogue, and champagne is not the drink du jour. However, the similarities are interesting to note. While we aren’t standing outside surrounded by thousands wearing ridiculous hats or oversized glitter glasses, we are stuffed inside the synagogue with a large group of people wearing assorted colored and textured yarmulkes, prayer shawls and holiday attire. Merry plastic noisemakers are replaced with the ultimate noisemaker-the shofar, and at the end of the service, we ultimately wish each other Happy New Year.
Perhaps, the biggest similarity between these two celebrations is the…resolution. One might think we Jews are lucky as we get to make resolutions twice, so that if we break them the first time, we get a second chance in January. Hmmmmm, I guess my resolution to be more positive is already waning. According to surveys, most people who make New Year’s resolutions will fail by January 20th. I don’t think there are any Rosh Hashanah resolution statistics…but I would be curious nonetheless.
Resolutions are a funny thing. We place a lot of emotional weight on them, and it makes it even more frustrating when we don’t follow through. I sometimes feel like I have to break the resolution just to get rid of the pressure of making it, like a kid who has to touch something, even though they know they shouldn’t. After all, didn’t I point out to my husband during services (while we were specifically reading about egregious sins such as gossip and slander) at how many women were ridiculously wearing boots on an 80-degree day for fashion’s sake? Yes, I was callous and no doubt not very repentant but commenting on high-holiday synagogue fashion was just too good to give up. There were skirts that were inappropriately short, heels that were ridiculously high and all the while ironically, I kept pulling at my own skirt for fear that the people behind me thought my behind was way too big for it. There, another sin…vanity, sue me. I like to think of it more as insecurity.
The whole resolution thing makes me a little cranky and I had to stop and really think why. I mean, here is an opportunity to better myself, make good, do the right thing, and yet everything I was doing was the wrong thing at the wrong time.
When I look at my life, there is certainly so much of which I am grateful for. There is precious health, family, friends, a nice home, and food on the table. These are things; however, I thank God for on a regular basis…even in the supermarket. As I survey the organic produce, which costs a fortune, and some o f the specialty items that I have enough money to pay for I am overwhelmingly grateful. In fact, swiping my card feels like a holy act sometimes.
I have a stack of insurance receipts sitting in a folder for numerous strep tests, Lyme tests, blood work, allergy follow-ups, minor surgeries, antibiotics, check ups, immunizations, allergists, dermatologists, dentists, orthodontists and pediatricians. I am grateful everyday that I have health insurance.
I just returned a few weeks ago from my niece’s bat mitzvah where I had the entire weekend to enjoy my family. At one point, all the younger cousins were playing in the hotel pool, and I was sitting on a lounge chair with the newest member of our family. As I sat there stroking her beautiful, bald, head as she fell asleep in my arms, I was so complacent and overwhelmingly grateful for my family. When her diaper leaked all over me, I was grateful that I was done having children.
So, I guess my point is, I am grateful all the time; it isn’t something I just reserve for a holiday. I am constantly aware of my behavior as I am usually feeling guilty about something or someone and always trying to fix it. That may not be a good thing, but it’s something I am aware of nonetheless. Let’s face it, the whole resolution thing is a work in progress that is constantly evolving. So, it makes me feel better when I look to Rosh Hashanah as a marker, rather than a finite starting point. It takes the pressure off while allowing me to either fail or succeed and if my resolutions need additional tweaking, well… there’s always Jan. 1st.
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