Rosh Hashana 5779


by Fred Schlomka -
Rosh Hashana (ראש השנה) literally means the 'Head of the Year', and celebrates the birthday of the Universe, which according to Jewish tradition was created 5,779 years ago.
Known also as the 'Jewish New Year', Rosh Hashana is a time for introspection, to ponder one's lesser nature and to prepare for the ritual repentance of Yom Kippur - the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, which happens in one week.
The 'Days of Awe', as the coming week is known, can be used in a practical manner in order to cleanse the soul of the detritus of the previous year - acts of moral turpitude, sins, crimes, and suchlike.
Religious folks perform an ancient ritual known as 'Tashlich', that gives corporeal form to the essentially intangible notion of 'sin'. Participants find a body of flowing natural water to conduct the ritual. It could be an ocean, river, pond, etc. While praying, devout people symbolically throw pieces of bread into the water, representing their sins that are being cast off in an act of repentance. Try it sometime. Kids love the idea, and enthusiastically toss their sins into the water.
Many Rabbis tell us that more proactive forms of repentance must also be conducted, such as contacting people we have wronged during the previous year, and begging their forgiveness. I tried this once. Didn't work. The fellow had refused to speak to me for several years due to his offence at some behaviour of mine. It's so long ago that I don't even remember the exact nature of the slight, and I suspect he doesn't either. Anyway I phoned him and my invitation for coffee to let 'bygones be bygones' was spurned. He mumbled into the phone that he would prefer to ' . . . let things stand as they are', and hung up.
Oh well, I tried. I think that's the most important thing. I forgive him.
However on this year, the 5,779th year since creation, I appeal to all whom I have slighted, offended, sinned against, or otherwise violated the natural laws of this wonderful Universe during the past year. Please forgive me.
May the coming year be a time of sweetness for all, full of justice, peace and love.
שנה טובה
Shana Tova
Happy New Year

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