9/9/2018—Sundown today the holiday of Rosh Hashana begins—the birthday of the world, the birthday of the universe. This is the anniversary of the Big Bang, you might say. Time began today, although that concept is strange indeed.
In Jewish tradition, the entire previous month of Elul has been one of introspection. The Saturday night before, just some hours ago, the prayers for forgiveness, called Selichot.
Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the Ten Days of Awe, culminating in the fast day of Yom Kippur. During these ten days, one seeks out those whom one has wronged to ask forgiveness and to forgive those who ask for it.
The entire holiday is a kind of technology of renewal of the spirit.
Having been a participant, I attest to its power.
But I actually have never seen it work its magic on others—maybe renewal is hidden.
I suppose you could say that it is a time for rededication, but I think that understates the holiday’s potential.
Better to say that I give up my commitments. I don’t assume anything. I will allow the holiday itself to orient my life. I might go into the holiday a Republican and come out a Democrat. Or go into the holiday oriented toward politics and come out a person who listens to a different sound of life altogether.
As I say, I don’t expect any such thing. And I am not familiar with any literature in which such things happen.
But they have happened to me.
Happy New Year.