Sep 15, 2015

The Jewish New Year

By Rabbi Howard Siegel
Source: Houston Chronicle
“Fact” is defined as “a thing that is indisputably the case.” One such indisputable fact is Change. Nothing in life stays the same. This is the result of another indisputable fact-Time. Time and Change co-exist in tandem with one another. The passing of time is often measured by change.   A baby is born, learns to walk and talk, grows into adulthood, marries, has children, ages, and dies. Every stage of life is accompanied by changes in fashion, culture, and philosophy. One may argue the only constant in the entire universe is God, and even God changes!

The God of Abraham is different than the God of Moses who is different than the God of the religious existentialist Martin Buber who is different than the God of my Abba (father). Who is it that really changes? Is it God or humankind? While Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) may declare, “There is nothing new under the sun,” in fact, everything is new-each day, each month, each year, and each person.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a celebration of renewal and change. Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin writes, “On Rosh Hashanah, we are reminded of the possibilities of eternal renewal; that the past is a launching pad for the future; that even though our past resides in us, we do not reside in our past. As the world can be renewed each year, so can we.”
It is at this time of year the Jew takes an introspective look into the mirror of life, not to deny but take ownership of the faults and errors that, in the past year, have become spiritual stumbling blocks in the effort to move forward. One cannot hold back time, nor put brakes on change. One can, however, find meaning in the sanctification of time and fulfillment in personal change and renewal. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of a 10-day spiritual journey in search of oneself without the fear of guilt or personal recrimination. Former baseball commissioner Francis Vincent said it best, “Baseball teaches us how to deal with failure, that failure is the norm in baseball-that those who hit safely in one out of three chances become star players. I also find it fascinating that baseball, alone in sport, considers errors to be part of the game, part of its rigorous truth.”
May this be a year marked by personal growth, positive change,  and a vigilant pursuit of peace for all.
Rabbi Howard Siegel is Director of the Jewish Information Center (JIC) of Houston. The views expressed in this post are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the JIC or Interfaith Houston.

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