Tonight marks the commencement of the Jewish new year. Rosh Hashanah begins on the evening of October 2 and will end on the evening of October 4. Jews will be celebrating the beginning of the year 5777. The Jewish calendar actually contains four separate opportunities to recognize a new year, with Rosh Hashanah literally translating in to “head of the year.” Specifically, Rosh Hashanah is the new year of people, animals, and contracts.
Rosh Hashanah is a particularly significant new year as it marks the commencement of the Jewish high holy days. Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgement. On this day, it’s believed God opens The Book of Life and decides who will live and who will die over the upcoming year. The deal is sealed in 10 days later on Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement.
On Rosh Hashanah, individuals deemed righteous will be destined to survive the upcoming year. Those deemed wicked, well I’m sure you can guess what happens to them. Somewhere in between are the “intermediates” – those people who don’t quite fit into either category.
Intermediates are given a chance to repent during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (and are expected to really give it their all on the actual day Yom Kippur) thereby ensuring a good fate. In other words, if your destiny is on the fence, it’s possible to alter God’s plan during the high holy days.
The new year is a time for wonder and excitement and also reflection. This past Jewish year has been the hardest I’ve endured and I possess no nostalgia when thinking of it coming to a close. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful and I recognize and appreciate what I’m privileged with on a daily basis. I simply cannot reminisce on this past year with any sense of fondness. Does this make me less than righteous? Would God therefore consider me wicked? Perhaps, but more likely, I’m biding my time right now as an intermediate.
I certainly will use the next 10 days to work towards penitence. Truth is, I’ve been doing it for some time already. This abysmal year has forced me to consciously focus on practicing gratitude and learning how to better incorporate grace and faith in my daily activities. Like some detached admirer, I’ve marveled at my ability to endure situations I’d never imagined I could tolerate. I don’t consider myself particularly strong, I’ve just somehow been able to get through to the other side (so far.) I’m ending this year a different person then how I started it. And I’m ok with that.
I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring. I can’t help but feel optimistic a year with three “7s” in it will be filled with a great deal of luck and opportunity. I won’t ever forget what I endured, but I’m accepting how to respect what I’ve learned from it, and am absolutely ready to move forward with a renewed sense of faith and hope.
If you’re an intermediate like me, consider what you could do to help seal your fate in the direction you’re hoping it will take. What are you grateful for and what could you do better? Could 5777 be your best year yet?
Happy new year!/Shanah Tova!