Monday Smiles – 9/17/2012

Sunset last night ushered in Rosh Hashanah, often called the Jewish New Year, the beginning of the Days of Awe that end ten days later with Yom Kippur.   In Jewish tradition, God judges everyone on Rosh Hashanah, writing each name into the book of life for a good or bad year.  However, except for the very wicked, God’s judgement can be tempered though teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah … repentance, prayer and good deeds, usually charity … during the ten days leading to Yom Kippur, when the book of life is sealed.  That is why the customary greeting on Rosh Hashanah is L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem.  May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.  L’shanah tovah for short.

I’ve been alive for too long to believe that only the wicked have bad years but ever since I began attending services with Muri years ago, I’ve liked the idea of an annual holiday dedicated to introspection, to looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year, ending with a day of atonement, Yom Kippur, on which we are to make things right with God and man.  To atone for sins against another person, we must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs we committed against them if possible and seeking forgiveness.  That’s why forgiveness is very much a part of the holiday because traditionally, if you are asked for forgiveness during the Days of Awe, you can refuse twice but on the third request, you must grant it.  That’s a nice way to begin the year.

Muri and I haven’t belonged to a synagogue for quite a while, but we’ll be in the park when this posts, reading from the the machzor, a special prayerbook used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  We’ll walk to the edge of the lake to carry on the tradition of Tashlikh, throwing stones representing our sins into the glassy water.  We’ll wish each other L’Shannah Tovah, hoping for a good year ahead then go out for a nice lunch.   Another year begins.

It’s Monday.  It’s Rosh Hashanah.  I’m smiling.  L’Shannah tovah, everyone.

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One Comment on “Monday Smiles – 9/17/2012”

  1. L’Shana Tova! I’ve always thought it was interesting how closely the Days of Awe mirror Lent in the Christian tradition, particularly in the Catholic faith. You’re not so far from your beginnings after all. 🙂 (but I have always thought the writing of the good and the bad in the Book of Life sounded like Santa’s naughty and nice lists. Is that sacrilege?)

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