Featured in local papers on Thursday, September 25, 2003. Copyright 2003 by Yosef Y. Polter

Rosh Hashanah - A New Beginning

Rosh Hashanah commemorates, among other things, the creation of the world, 5764 years ago.  According to the teachings of Kabbala, Jewish holidays are more than just a commemoration, but rather a live replay of the original revelation experience, albeit less visible.  It follows that every year, at Rosh Hashanah, the world is being created anew.  What does this mean for us? 

At this time of year we are told to improve our behavior, to confess and repent, to ask forgiveness, and to make new, positive resolutions. One may find this hard to do: he may think he is beyond forgiveness.  Or he may feel that, since he has tried so many times before to change and better himself — and has failed — it is futile to hope to succeed this time.

Here is where this refreshing idea of Rosh Hashanah gives us new hope: every year at Rosh Hashanah we are being recreated.  Therefore, while the old guy may have failed, the new one may very well succeed if he gives it his best shot.  By the very nature of Rosh Hashanah, he has a chance to start as a new human being with a clean slate, like a newborn child. 

As we usher in the New Year tomorrow night (holiday goes from sunset on Friday until nightfall on Sunday), let us keep in mind this uplifting message.  This will encourage us to never give up hope of making positive changes to our character, regardless of past failures.  After all, this is a complete new you.  The new you has never failed and the new you has not yet tried.  So go for it.  Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Rabbi Yosef Polter is the director of the Chabad Center located at 148 Great Road (Rte. 2A) in Acton, serving area towns.  High Holiday services are free of charge and open to all regardless of temple affiliation, religious background, or level of knowledge or observance.  For more information, call (978) 929-2513 or 758-8994.  Also, visit www.chabadofacton.com