The Torah declares: “Surely, this instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.” (Parashat Nitzavim, Dtn. 30)
On Rosh Hashanah we affirm that we can change. We proclaim that we can fix our mistakes and mend our ways. We believe that human beings are capable of repentance and change. Change however comes with difficulty. We all know that we all have the tendency to resist it. This is part of our human nature. Everyone wants to hold on to the past and in particular their imagination of that past. But, when we attempt to hold on to such imaginings we never serve the future. We find ourselves alone and comforted only by memories. Thus, change is necessary. It is required for our society. It is required for our people. It is required in our personal lives. We must regularly reinvent ourselves.
On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate our ability to change. We dip the apples into honey and say, “May it be Your will, Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, to renew this year for us with sweetness and happiness.” The Hebrew word for renew is hadesh. We make new. We make the old new. We are never trapped in our old ways. Our lives are not predestined. Our choices are not predetermined. We can change. We can be different.
Too often we feel that our lives are beyond our control. To be sure, there are things that we cannot determine. Our health is not entirely in our own hands. Sometimes as well, other people’s choices affect our own and help to determine the directions of our lives. Yet our choices remain in our own hands. This is what we can change. And this is what we mark on Rosh Hashanah.
More than other day, this holiday offers us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and to take the choices into our own hands. Let us celebrate this day and seize this opportunity.
Chayim joins me in wishing you and your families a blessed New Year filled with love, peace, joy, health, prosperity and Yiddishkeit.
May you be inscribed and sealed for a good new year
Rabbi Adrian M Schell