It’s almost that time again! One thing I really, really, love about the Jewish calendar is that it’s a primarily lunar calendar, which means Rosh Chodesh (literally, “the head of the month”) falls on the day of the new moon. Thanks to Hillel II who, in the 4th century C.E., established a “fixed-month” lunar calendar so that it realigns with the solar calendar, Jews are able to continue the ancient practice of determining the first of the month based on when the new moon appears. In short, Rosh HaShanah (literally, “the head of the year”) occurs on the first and second days of the month of Tishri, whose Gregorian equivalent is generally September.
It seems hard to believe that we’re approaching Rosh HaShanah. Beginning this week, we move to D’varim (the Book of Deuteronomy) which signals the beginning of the end of another Torah cycle. As we move through D’varim and closer to Simchat Torah (roughly, “rejoicing in the Instruction”), I begin to count the days until we begin Yamim Noraim (literally, “The Days of Awe”) and I look forward to my first time observing the High Holy Days as a Jew-by-Choice.
A time for self-examination, reflection, and prayer, Yamim Noraim is the time I immerse myself in Judaism; I step away from the many things that distract my thoughts from G-d and focus completely on how I can become closer to G-d and stronger in my faith, both of which will make me a better person. I am afforded the luxury to attend services, wear my tallit, and spend day after day in shul, contemplating ways I have harmed myself and others and rejoicing in the knowledge that once again, I am offered another chance at change.
Perhaps it’s because I was born in October or maybe it’s because I hate the heat but Fall has always been and still is my favorite time of year and it seems perfect that Rosh HaShanah occurs at the beginning of the end of summer. A palpable change is in the air; school has begun, temperatures begin to cool (well… not always), and the mistakes of the previous year can be left behind. As we begin to make our way through D’varim, I will begin to prepare both my heart and my mind for Yamim Noraim; honing my Hebrew, studying more Torah, and reflecting on my thoughts and actions this past year.
5770 was a good year. I became one of the People of Israel. I’m not sure anything can top that, but with 5771 just around the corner, I can’t wait to find out.