Rosh HaShannah is the termination of a period and the opening of a new and fresh one, a new year, a new page. The word for termination in Hebrew, Hasal - חסל, when scrambled spells the word Salah - סלח, forgive. The previous year is being terminated and we transition into the new year by forgiving the hurts of the past. Sounds simple doesn’t it. But is it really? At times forgiving and moving on, letting go and letting God, is the hardest feat in the universe, and yet it is the call of the season and of the holiday.
In a bit over a week, when the moon will have waned and vanished, we will gather to celebrate the beginning of a new year. We will sing, recite prayers, and rejoice in new beginnings. We will enjoy one another’s company, share thoughts and ideas, reconnect with the yearly tribal wave of significance and delight. At the end of services we will dip apples in honey and touch the sweet flavor to our palates as a way of blessing the months ahead with the hope for sweetness, ease, health, success, wellness for ourselves and our families.
Our time-tested tradition highlights an unescapable truth, though. It is that the celebrations’ experiences of lightness and joy correlate directly to the weightiness of the old-year baggage we will have discarded. How? by forgiving and letting go, or perhaps by confronting and then letting go, or maybe by asking forgiveness for words or deeds deeply regretted.
Some conversations will be of asking forgiveness, others will be about communicating a grievance and others simply offering forgiveness despite pain that is still gnawing inside. Whichever way the clearing goes, the task at hand is liberating one’s self from unwanted soul shackles before the gates to the New Year open wide. “Teshuvah, Tefilah and Tzedakah”, Interpersonal Clearing, Praying and Giving allow us an internal oil change and spiritual engine tune up before the next yearlong journey, teach the sages, the journey of 5779.
May we so be blessed.
Rabbi Reuben Modek