“A Different Sort of New Year” by Debbie Brenner

Jan 1st, 2012 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

New Year's Celebration

Excitement was reigning in the faces of thousands of people waiting for 2011 to be over. 10, 9 8 ….. 1 Happy New Year!!!!! All wishing each other the best, hopes and dreams to be hopefully realized in this coming year.  People hugged, smiled, shouted, felt united with strangers in Times Square to be able to shout together the new year’s welcome.

I was watching the scene on tv and felt like an outsider. Why were people so excited?   I had no doubt that the mutual good wishes were certainly real. But then I realized that the wishing was hopeful wishing. Almost like seating in front of a roulette expecting that, yes, this will be my turn to be lucky.  And then, in contrast to our Rosh Hashana, I was struck by the shattering difference.  We have a day of judgement in which what we do matters. The behavior is dependent on our actions. The ultimate “ein mazal b’israel”. That we are masters of our own destiny as opposed to be just recipients of the mazal. We can be raised above the mazal to shape our own.  

The other side of the coin in this active shaping of our own destiny is responsibility and understanding we shape our life with our choices.

So on that note, I wish you an enlightened solar 2012 year of choices that will make us better human beings.

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  • moshe stepansky

    Every year around the solar new year R’ Shlomo would mention that various great Rabbis throughout the ages (I believe he also quoted the MaHaRaL of Prague)remarked that one should not denigrate the non-Jewish New Years.

    The general thought is that it marks an opening for ‘cheshbon haNefesh’ introspection and T’shuva amongst the various nations of the world.

    Surely, we are all familiar with the concept of ‘New Year resolutions’. For all intents and purposes, people are following the stepped approach to Return and elevating themselves in some spiritual fashion, to make them better human beings.

  • I feel the colorful festivities going on all around us, the good wishes, firecrackers, a crystal ball dropping in Times Square…. can all serve to remind us …we are a good few months into the Jewish New Year ….are we indeed on track with the resolutions we expressed in the month of Tishrei? …Is the year so far taking the shape we originally wanted? Are we creating the realities we asked for at the beginning of 5772? The clock is ticking!!


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