Rosh Hashanah — head of the year

By Barbara Miller and Stephen Paul

There are a million and one commentaries from those far more learned than us on why the Jewish New Year is understood as a Head and not a New

In the first place, it is observed in Tishrei, the seventh month of the year. It is commemorated not with parties and fireworks celebrating an imaginary new beginning, but with a profoundly deeper significance of rosh, lev and neshamah looking within to transform, repair and improve oneself, one’s relationship with others and with Hashem, and for tikkun olam.

So this is what we as Jews, traditionally are called to do. The question for Barbara and me is, “why only once a year?” Most probably because living it daily is a calling which she is better at than me. Most of us, Jewish wisdom acknowledges, require an annual opportunity to be conscientised and renewed. How we do this with integrity, with genuine and not empty teshuvah prayers, once a year, is the challenge. 

Both of us no doubt approach Rosh Hashanah with our own depth of internalised meaning from our family homes and upbringing, but our mutual love of our Judaic roots and tradition, of our texts, of our simple emunah and bitachon, makes these days a shared purpose.  

Her life credo is “Be the change you want to see” and mine “I try to be the person my dog thinks I am”. Either way for both of us the meaning of Rosh Hashanah is connecting to Jewish expression of that, of loving family time, and honouring our heritage which has thousands of times brought us to this time.

• Published in the September 2022 Rosh Hashanah Digital Edition – Click here to read it.

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