A Sweet And Happy Jewish New Year To You

Source: Simcha Art Gallery
“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go forth and learn.” — Hillel the Elder
“For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization.” — Robert A. Heinlein

Sundown, at 6:26 p.m. this evening, marks the beginning of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the first High Holiday during the “Days of Awe.” Since there is a wealth of Rosh Hashahah 101 information available online, I will spare all of you from a dull tirade on the meaning and customs of the holiday.

Instead, permit me a humble moment or two on the ol’ soapbox.

Rosh Hashanah, which, according to Jewish belief, is the birthday of the world, is generally considered a time to take moral inventory… to make amends, to be a better person, and a chance to start over. We can be cynical, as many of us are in the comments on Sheepshead Bites, about organized religion. I get that. We don’t all have to believe in God. We don’t all have to go to synagogue. Nor, do we all have to study Torah, love Israel, or even necessarily embrace our Jewish heritage. It’s nice, but not altogether necessary to make one “a good person.”

However, over the course of the year, we may have said things we’ve regretted saying. We may have hurt someone’s feelings. We may have stolen something. We may have not picked up the phone when we saw the Caller ID was of a person we weren’t in the mood to talk to. We may have laughed at someone else’s misfortune. We may have let our tempers get the better of us. We may have bullied someone. We may have been spiteful. Rude. Dishonest. Uncaring. Unfriendly. Hypocritical.

Just. Plain. Mean.

Yeah. Me too.

Life these days is kind of tough. We’re all trying to get by. People want to squeeze as much out of us as they can for as little as they can get away with. Everybody wants something from someone. Everyone is struggling. It’s not a good time, and being unpleasant doesn’t make things easier. It accomplishes the opposite and makes them far worse.

William Shakespeare once wrote: “Everyone ought to bear patiently the results of his own conduct.”

Just cogitate on that concept for a moment. And be honest with yourselves. Because when I think about it, with myself in mind, I am appalled at some of the things I have said and done.

We’ve all made mistakes, and even though we cannot undo some of the damage those mistakes have wrought, trying to be a better person, well… it scores you more points. That can be with your family, your friends, your co-workers, your boss, or, if it is in accordance with your beliefs, The Man Upstairs, Buddha, Jesus, Allah, Shiva, Krishna, or Thor.

You even might score some points with yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Here’s my point: It’s the Jewish New Year, a time to start anew. All of the negative energy that bogs us down… that makes us think life sucks… that fills us with a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction — let’s break away from all that. Someone says something in the comments on Sheepshead Bites you don’t appreciate? So what. Granted, comments are a good thing — we like them — but maybe we don’t need to respond in anger. Maybe we could wait a little while and compose a more thoughtful, constructive response. And if that is the case, and you go ahead and do that, you should congratulate yourself. You are a better person than most.

There is one quote that has always resonated with me, particularly at this time of year, and it’s been attributed to T.H. Thompson, John Watson and Plato: “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”


Or, maybe, to paraphrase Rodney King, we can all just try to get along.

It’s not a bad way to start off the New Year, even if you’re not particularly observant. Or even if you’re not Jewish. That’s cool too.

In fact, instead of waiting until sundown, why don’t we start right now?

Steps off soapbox…

And on that note, Sheepshead Bites wishes all of our readers who observe — and even those of you who do not — a sweet, pleasant and meaningful Rosh Hashahah.


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