The end of summer is a time when we return from camps and vacations and prepare ourselves for a new school year. It is also a time, as we approach the High Holidays, for reflection on how we’ve been over the past year, a time of Cheshbon Nefesh, an accounting of the soul.The end of summer is a time when we return from camps and vacations and prepare ourselves for a new school year. It is also a time, as we approach the High Holidays, for reflection on how we’ve been over the past year, a time of Cheshbon Nefesh, an accounting of the soul.
What good have we done this year? What goals have we reached successfully? At what have we missed the mark?
Were we more aware of our words, more careful with our vows? Were we more willing to forgive the failings of others, perhaps realizing that we hope that others will be more willing to forgive our own failings? Were we more prepared to take the actions ourselves that we hoped that others would take? Did we make our family, our congregation, our community, our country, and our world better for what we accomplished? Have we demanded that others love and not hate, while hating and not loving ourselves?
When we are reminded of the sacrifices of those among previous generations of Jews, perhaps among our own family members, that enabled us to have the blessings that we have in our lives today, are our hearts filled with thanksgiving? Or do we take what we have for granted, expecting more. Are our concerns solely about the actions of others or their inability to act in the best way and not at all focused on our own actions and our inability to act in the way that we know is best?
We have sailed upon turbulent waters over the past year. It has not always been clear, if clear at any time, in which direction our nation may go, what may happen to important and cherished liberties and governmental supports. How are we standing up for our values? How are we failing?
This coming High Holidays, we will ask for forgiveness, but will we atone, repair the damage that we have done? Will we perform T’shuvah, repentance, returning to the proper path? Will we change how we go about our lives? Having decided that we desire change, will we commit ourselves to making change happen?
May the new Jewish year, 5778, bring us more joy and happiness, more health and harmony, may it be a year that sees prosperity and well-being increase in our lives, and may it be a year that sees Shalom increase in our troubled world.
L’shanah Tovah Tikateivu!
May we all be inscribed for a good new year!
Rabbi David Kaufman