Sundown Sunday will begin the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year and the beginning of the ten days of repentance leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah is a joyous and celebratory holiday, but it has serious spiritual implications.
As the anniversary of God’s creation of the first human beings, we are reminded of humanity’s unique relationship with our Creator and the opportunity we have to do good or evil in His world. Adam and Eve’s initial actions, of course, resulted in our expulsion from Eden. On Rosh Hashanah, we look back at our actions over the course of the year and consider how we might have done better. What is the status of our relationship with God? What have we done to better His world and care for our brothers and sisters? What are our failings? And what will we do to learn from those failings so as not to repeat them?
These are hard questions, of course, and they require a good deal of thought and prayer.
The Kotzker Rebbe, a great 19th century Polish rabbi, once asked his students who was higher on a ladder: the man on the tenth rung or the man on the third rung? The students, probably knowing it was a leading question, answered the obvious: the man on the tenth rung is higher. The rabbi replied that, in fact, it depended on which direction they were headed. The man on the tenth rung, if headed down, was already lower than the man on the third if that man is headed up.
The same is true in our lives. God knows that the human beings He has created are imperfect and prone to failure. He doesn’t expect us to rest permanently on the tenth rung of life’s ladder. But we are expected to strive upward. Rosh Hashanah allows us to look at where we are and how we’re doing and, hopefully, turn ourselves in the right direction.
May you be inscribed for blessing in Book of Life.