High Holidays: A Time to Reflect
“Rosh HaShanah is coming. It will be a good time to just turn the page, and start the new year fresh,” a friend said a few weeks ago. “Then, you can focus on moving forward. Leave all of the unpleasantness behind.” Is it really that easy? Is that what the High Holidays are about? Turn the page and move on? Are we supposed to use these ten days, these days of reflection, to honestly examine our acts of the past year, atone for them, and then just move on with our lives? Or, are we to look for lessons, kernels of experience that we can use to inform the way we conduct ourselves and manage our lives going forward?
Just as Shabbat allows us to take a break from the routine hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, perhaps we can take this time to not only break from our routine, but also to look a little deeper, to think a little longer, to ask ourselves what our role was in the successes and in the failures of the prior year. Regardless of the outcome, it is probably most instructive to take a moment to ask ourselves, “What part did I play in that?“ When all is said and done, we really do learn more from our failures than our successes. Maybe the growth is in finding a way to keep from repeating the same mistakes over and over.
In the same way, we can look at our own sisterhoods. Are we honestly looking at how we attract new members? Or are we doing what we’ve always done and hoping for different results? Are we examining the results of a fund-raiser, looking for ways to make it even more successful, or are we happily moving on to the next event on the calendar? Are we pushing ourselves to continue coming up with new ideas for projects and programs, or are we doing the same things year after year because they are familiar? And are we asking ourselves and our members how we can make things better?
As we begin the year 5773, let’s resolve to ask the difficult questions, consider the answers, and begin to make a difference in how we conduct our own lives and how we relate to one another. Turning the page is one option. Adding more meaning and intention to our lives will help connect us more to one another, and in so doing, ever closer to the Divine.
May the light of the Shabbat candles brighten all of our lives.
Susan C. Bass is the vice president of WRJ’s Department of Development and Special Projects and a member of Congregation Beth Israel, Houston, TX.