Jewish New Year 5780/2019 --
What's different from the US New Year?
Jewish New Year 5780 begins in October 2019.
What's different from the US New Year in January?
It would be easier to say what is the same.
Probably only thing the same is that families get together. The character of the observance is completely different. The Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShana) is a time of intense personal reflection - not a time for merriment and abandon.
Rosh HaShana, which lasts for two days, is celebrated as the day when G-d created the world. It also marks the final days to seek forgiveness before the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) - a mere ten days later. During these ten days, we must reflect on our behavior during the year that just ended and assess what we may do to live better lives in the year that is beginning.
Sometimes a song (not just a picture) is worth a thousand words. Please take a couple of minutes to feel the rhythm of these High Holy Days as Joe Buchanan sings about the opportunity for reflection in a song he wrote titled "Return".
In Judaism, not even G-d can forgive a transgression by one person against a fellow human being. The individual must be approached personally. Feeling remorse and sorrow for the hurt we have caused another is not enough. In order for my forgiveness to count and be deemed meaningful, the hurt party must forgive me. We are counseled to speak personally to everyone in our lives - family, friends,work associates - with whom we interact and ask forgiveness from each of them.
Although the anniversary of Creation, our attention on Rosh HaShanah is drawn toward the struggles of our forefather Abraham as he experiences conflicting claims from his children as well as contradictory voices from heaven testing his faith and moral sensitivity. Abraham seeks salvation with moral transformation. Paragraph taught by Rabbi Louchheim
What if the person cannot be located or has died? The rabbis state that true repentance or "return" to good behavior will suffice. Maimonides, who during the 12th century served the Jewish community from Spain to Egypt as a rabbi, physician and philosopher, said, "Even though one has made compensation, the offender must also appease the one he has injured and ask his forgiveness. Even if a person only annoyed another with words, he has to pacify the latter and entreat him until he has obtained his forgiveness" (Mishnah, Hilkhot T'shuvah 2:10).
"Will you forgive me for anything I did to hurt or aggravate you, whether unknowingly or willfully, whether accidentally or intentionally, whether in speech or in action?”
The formula is similar for Jews all around the world and the request only counts if sincerely offered. Interestingly for me, one must ask a second time if refused and then a third time... However, if the other person refuses after the third sincere request, the "sin" passes to the other person for being "stiff-necked" when asked.
After observing all year, in a complete anthropomorphistic story, G-d writes the names of those who will live another year in His book which remains open until the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when the names are sealed into the book.
The 11th-century sage, Rabbi Amnon of Mainz (who was martyred for refusing to convert away from Judaism) teaches* that "Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severe decree.” meaning that people who "mend their ways" in the days between Rosh Hashana and You Kippur may be added to the Book of Life before it is sealed.
Let's close with another song entitled "The Book of Good Life" from The Maccabeats about being aware as we live our lives everyday. In fact, we get to see the a cappela singers in a couple of do-overs in the video!
May you be inscribed, and sealed, in the Book of Life for the New Year.
May you, your family and friends enjoy a sweet New Year.
*The Leonard Cohen song "Who By Fire" is based on the same piyyut by Rabbi Amnon.
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall die and how many shall be born
Who shall live and who shall die
Who at the measure of days and who before
Who by fire and who by water
Who by the sword and who by wild beasts
Who by hunger and who by thirst
Who by earthquake and who by plague
Who by strangling and who by stoning
Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering
Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed
Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted
Who shall become poor and who shall become rich
Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.
Need a REALTOR(R)?
Let me that for you.
Click & Search