Rosh Hashanah: Angst

Rosh Hashana is the season of Jewish angst. It is the Jewish New Year, a time when Jews are supposed to grapple with their demons. It is a time for self-assessment to ask forgiveness from those we have harmed and make resolutions for the future. And it is also a time when we come to pray for all of us as a community and for the world that we are all part of.

Life, however, is not entirely in our hands, and we reflect on the fragility of life and ask for a new year of joy, good health and continued life, all the time knowing that none of us has any guarantees in this regard.

Our prayers meditate on the question, “Who will be raised, and who will be brought down? Who will live and who will die in this new year?” And this suspense is the suspense of life itself. And this is the drama of the Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Holiday cycle to which we have to bring our mind and soul. The Rabbis tell us that what is in our hands is teshuva, tefilla, and tzedaka and that these three activities have the potential to ease our individual and collective fate.

Teshuva – meditating and repairing our personal missteps.

Tefilla, – prayer, sharing our thoughts, intentions, and wishes with G-d

Tzedaka, – doing acts of loving-kindness, justice, and charity.


A friend sent me the following parody of New Years’ wishes.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs, and your stocks not fall.

And may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastroenterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber, and the Internal Revenue.

May you find a way to travel from anywhere to anywhere during rush hour in less than an hour, and when you get there may you find a parking space.

May this Yom Tov, find you seated around the dinner table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends, ushering in the Jewish New Year ahead.

May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them.

May the telemarketers wait to make their sales calls until you finish dinner, may your checkbook and your budget balance, and may they include generous amounts for charity.

May you remember to say “I love you” at least once a day to your partner, your child, and your parent(s). You can say it to your secretary, your nurse, your butcher, your photographer, your hairdresser or your gym instructor,
but not with a “twinkle” in your eye.

May we live as intended, in a world at peace with the awareness of the beauty in every sunset, every flower’s unfolding petals, every baby’s smile and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous part of ourselves.

Bless you with every happiness, great health, peace and much love during the next year and all those that follow.

Wishing everyone a “Shana Tova Umetooka” – Hebrew for ” a good and sweet year”. At the Rosh HaShanah table, this is symbolized by dipping apples in honey. I always find this especially delicious.

May G-d grant all of our wishes for the good…