The Jewish Holidays are here but you don’t have to be Jewish, or even religious, to appreciate the significance of this holiday. There is an important message in the High Holy days for everyone.
The Jewish New Year is called Rosh HaShanah which begins a ten day period of reflection and repentance. This time is known as the Days of Awe. It is a time that reminds us that all humans are capable of growing and learning at any stage of life. During this time we are informed that in order to move forward in life we must forgive others and ourselves for the indiscretions of the past year.
The Holiday is ripe with symbolism such as dipping apples into honey to signify our hope for a sweet new year. The shofar, which is traditionally a Ram horn, is blown like a trumpet. It is sounded three times as a way to shake us out of our complacency so that we will try harder in the days ahead to be good honest and charitable people.
These ideas are ones we need to hold dear everyday of our lives but the High Holidays bring Jews together to reaffirm these beliefs and to do so as a community. As a Jew, I have always loved these Holidays and as a therapist I see the value as not just spiritual but psychological as well.
We all need to pause on a regular basis and think about how our behavior has affected others and how we can improve in so many ways, such as how we talk to our loved ones, the way we sometimes judge others, how we may bend the truth even slightly to suit our needs, or how we race through our days so often without personal reflection. These are innately human tendencies and therefore everyone can relate to these failings.
The message during these Jewish Holidays is one that is universally applicable. We can and should constantly strive to be and to do better. As individuals we are always a work in progress and the same holds true for our relationships. We need to learn to forgive others and to forgive ourselves and commit to learning from our mistakes. These ideas embody the spirit of hope that lives in us all.
For those of you who do not celebrate these holidays, I wish for you an opportunity to reflect and renew in any fashion that is meaningful to you. To those who do celebrate the Jewish Holidays I wish you, L’Shana Tova, a Happy New Year.
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