I am not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve, and it is mostly because too many of us put ridiculous and unrealistic pressure believing the evening has to be the “absolute best night of our lives.”
Plus there’s this… How many of us make New Year’s resolutions that very evening? How many of those resolutions actually stick and become habits or true life changes?
I would much rather strive for pleasure and joy every day in the same way and the same manner. Easy? Heck no, which is why we pick certain days to force ourselves to really focus and be aware of all that we are trying to do.
So does that mean certain days are more powerful and important than others?
According to a lecture I heard David Sacks give, the answer is no… or at least they should not be. Each and every day has the ability to be special and holy and have us accomplish great things. Thus if we put one above the other… treat one differently… we are taking away this opportunity.
We should and must still honor the Sabbath… and of course, celebrate the holidays and holy days. We must take joy in the time we get to spend together with family and friends… but we must also fully embrace the notion that we have an opportunity, every single day, to live fully as Jews and to accomplice amazing, vital and significant things!
Ben and I have very similar backgrounds, and yes I was one of those Jews who made it to Temple twice a year… and could not wait to get out. The services were tedious, never fully explained and I could not understand why we would celebrate the New Year and then, almost immediately repent.
That was then… this is now!
I pray daily, study as often as I can… and need to be better about consciously giving. Like so many of my friends say: “You’ll get there.”
The daily prayer and regular study has made all the difference for me. While I still have a long way to go, I understand why we do certain things… why the prayers are set up the way they are… and more importantly, I get to have a dialogue with Hashem each and every day. (See Ben’s last post for some specifics).
I also have a philosophy and a way to live, that gives me structure and meaning. This is key and what will make something a daily routine… and hopefully a lifelong pursuit.
I wish this for each and every one of us. It is not about seeking perfection, but growth… moving forward… making our lives meaningful. And thus I am looking at Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and in fact, every Jewish holiday from a new set of eyes and understanding.
Things have to make sense for us and this means as individuals. No one learns in exactly the same way. What moves one of us, will not affect another. So we clearly need to find individual purpose and satisfaction, but appreciate the power and need of the communal experience.
The energy of a room full of Jews can be mighty and moving… Hearing the prayers out loud, sharing those sounds and that space can truly elevate the soul. The sound of the Shofar resonates on so many levels.
Take the time to understand what it is that feeds your heart and mind… what excites and enhances your Judaism. Sit with the prayers and the stories and the Rabbi’s sermon. Let them wash over you… affect you.
Allow the significance of the “holi/y” day to be a vital part of you. Delve deeper into it. Dig and plant… and while the Book Of Life may in fact be sealed… realize that each and every day is yours to live, to grab hold of, to make something out of… Each and every day can give us growth and shade, comfort and sustenance, fruit and nourishment… We have the ability to grow and climb… and soar. We have the ability to make each and every day HOLY.