Sunday, October 02, 2016

Rosh Hashana for Thinkers

The goal of this blog is a BOFA (breath of fresh air) at the Rosh Hashana table. Please share.

applesandhoneyLast Monday, with just a week left of the year 5776, we attended the funeral of my 19-year-old son's best friend.

I do not need to tell you that it was heart-wrenching.

He was a nice kid. Soft-spoken, smart. One summer a few years ago I hired him and my son to paint our fence. When they completed the job, he refused to accept payment, telling me that he didn't feel he had done a good enough job. I was satisfied, but his own sense of integrity prevented him from accepting payment.

(The official cause of death was accidental drowning.)

I share this unhappy news in the spirit of Rosh Hashana.

If you find that a bit ironic, it may be because you are thinking of Rosh Hashana like January 1: champagne, fireworks, saxophone, Scotch whiskey.


Rosh Hashanah is that one day a year (OK, two) (OK, maybe one) to think about your life.

How fragile it is, how quickly it can end ....

How precious it is.

What it will take to make 5777 the best year ever.

My Rav used to tell us, "Yom Kippur is easy. You fast and say I'm sorry a bunch of times. Rosh Hashana is hard work. You have to think."

Tradition says that how you think on Rosh Hashana affects your entire year. The day has a certain karmic energy that causes your thoughts  to have more influence than on any other time of the year.

Rosh Hashana determines who will be healthy and who will get sick. Who will earn and who will lose. Who will live and who will die.

(The root of "hashana" is shina which means "change". Rosh Hashana = beginning of change.)

This need to think is the real reason for two days of Rosh Hashana: clarity matters, and most of us need two days to get it.

Whether you do it for one day or two, if you end Rosh Hashana before achieving greater clarity about your life, you just missed an opportunity.

Here are two questions to help those at your table hear the shofar a little differently this year:

1. If you knew that this was going to be the last year of your life, how would you live it?
2. If you had to stand in a court and justify living for another year, what would you say? What do you hope to accomplish that would justify another year of life?

(For 23 more questions for contemplation, or for my "Rosh Hashana Omens" sheet, send me an email.)

Wishing you and yours a good, sweet year of health, success and great happiness. May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

If I have written or said anything in the past year to offend, kindly forgive me. And let's all pause around sunset tonight and forgive everyone who may have offended us.

L'shana tova!

"Men will forgive a man anything except bad prose." (Churchill)

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