This weekend, on Shabbat and Sunday, we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
In these days of COVID-19, we will celebrate somewhat differently than usual. We will gather with our families, but perhaps with fewer members of our extended family. Many synagogues and temples are having services with special arrangements to insure everyone can be safely distanced from each other. Many people will participate in virtual services online, or conduct their own services at home.
These ways of conducting our Rosh Hashanah celebrations seem odd, and are very new.
But then, perhaps the celebration of the NEW year might be a good time to try something new.
The rabbis of the Talmud taught that many new things occurred on Rosh Hashanah: God created Adam and Eve; both Abraham and Jacob were born; God commanded that three women who had been longing for children but were unable to have them would, indeed, have children – Sarah, Rachel and Hannah (whose son became the prophet Samuel); Joseph was released from prison in Egypt; and the enslaved Children of Israel stopped their work for the Egyptian masters. (Rosh Hashanah 10b-11a)
As you see, we have a history of new things for Rosh Hashanah. The things we will do on Rosh Hashanah that are different this year give us a chance to compare how we have celebrated the new year in the past. Perhaps these will give you an idea for other changes.
Did you miss not being with your cousins at lunch after services? Make a plan to get together when all the social distancing is over.
Did you remember the elderly man at temple who gives you candy for a sweet year, but who did not come because he has health issues? Give him a call.
Think about the year between last Rosh Hashanah and this one. Were there things that bothered you – perhaps the way you were treated, or the way you treated someone? Is there something you would like to change about that relationship?
Rosh Hashanah is a time to remember things in our life can be new – they can be different. Be Prepared to see things in a new way, and to change to make things better for yourself and others.
Shabbat shalom and Shanah Tovah! Happy New Year!
(The discussion of new things that occurred on Rosh Hashanah is from Rabbi Nosson Scherman’s “Overview” in the Artscroll Machzor – Rosh Hashanah.)