The month and days preceding the Jewish High Holidays are when we do what is called a heshbon nefesh: an accounting of the soul. We talk to the folks we may have had challenges with in the past year and we strive to make amends -- to ask for forgiveness.
In the Torah, we are first introduced to the term Hineni when we read about Akedat Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac, in Chapter 22 of Genesis. When God calls out to Abraham, prior to commanding him to sacrifice his son, Abraham responds, "Hineni."
We all wear masks. We wear a mask to hide our self-perceived faults and weakness: the mask of certainty when we are shaken, the mask of gregariousness when we might be shy the mask of humor when we're hurting, the mask of a victim when we're not.
We are not born in sin; we are each born with powerful tendencies to both good and evil and the drama of human character is in the struggle and balance between the two. The corrective mechanism is teshuva, repentance.
Tashlik, the casting away of regrets, is by far our favorite new year tradition. It surpasses the big meal and the white clothes, the honey cake and the days off from school. I wouldn't have it any other way. Here's why.
We live out our lives in intricate webs of human interaction and connection. The journey towards forgiveness and reconciliation with others is not a minor detail of this auspicious season. It is at the very heart of what the Jewish High Holy Days are all about.
I don't want Rosh Hashanah to be something I need to deal with. I want it to be a day I look forward to, a time of connection and renewal, a time when I can find my grounding in Judaism after a summer away from services and Hebrew school and with very few Jewish holidays.
Elul is really hard for me: In the darker moments of Elul, and in the darker corners of my mind, I berate myself. But in the course of this month, I try to find ways in which I can be a better parent and person -- and there are plenty.
Awe of creation and the Creator permeates one of the central biblical texts of Rosh Hashanah: the binding of Isaac. In a Jewish-environmental context, one rabbinic interpretation might be called an "eco-conscious" reading.
Repentance and forgiveness are powerful conscious processes that bring growth and lasting healing. That is why for Jews the holiest days of the year are those when we commit our lives to these processes.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and a time for reflecting on the past year while opening wide for the sweetness of the year to come. I'll cook for the Jewish holidays and offer the recipes to you.