As Rosh Hashanah arrives, we greet each other with ‘Shana Tova’, happy New Year and eat apples and honey symbolising the wish for a sweet New Year. Yet it is not the greeting alone nor the apple honey that give us that sweet New Year. Rosh Hashana is a time for renewal, we dig deep into our souls to understand what we want to bring with us into the New Year and what we want to leave behind. This Cheshbon Hanefesh – accounting for the Soul, helps guide us through into the New Year so we can start afresh. Our New Year begins with ten days of repentance until Yom Kippur. While as individuals we should always be striving to be our best selves (sometimes what we can manage as our best fluctuates!) this time between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur gives us a unique opportunity to start off the New Year with a clean slate. Often, when we make New Year’s resolutions in January, we can use them to beat ourselves up if a few weeks on we don’t manage to fulfil the colossal task we’ve set ourselves. Yet, at Rosh Hashannah, we’re given ten days. Ten days to repair relationships, to assess our actions, to take stock then at the end of Yom Kippur we move forward. In our High Holy Day liturgy, there are four words used for sin, pesha, meaning rebellion, עָווֹן – avon, meaning to be crooked, עַבֵרָה – averah, ‘to pass over and cheyt, to miss the mark. It is that final word, cheyt, that is the most commonly used. As we enter into a sweet New Year we are allowing ourselves to heal and move forward from those moments where we missed the mark, so we can start afresh for the Year ahead. Yet, it is not just about those times we want to leave behind, as we search for that sweetness, let’s take stock of the highs along with the lows and bring our whole selves into a shana tova – a happy New Year.
This wonderful website, 10Q (https://www.doyou10q.com/) offers a question a day to help your thinking through from Rosh Hashannah to Yom Kippur, it then stores it until next year and will email your answers to you to read before you answer again. Wishing you all a sweet, happy and rejuvenating New Year.