Monday, August 19, 2013

13 Elul: (New) Year


The four new years are:
On the first of Nisan, the new year for the kings and for the festivals;
On the first of Elul, the new year for the tithing of animals;
Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Shimon say, in the first of Tishrei
On the first of Tishrei, the new year for years, for the Sabbatical years and for the Jubilee years and for the planting and for the vegetables
On the first of Shevat, the new year for the trees, these are the words of the House of Shammai;
The House of Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof.
- Talmud 


I find there are so many holidays in the Jewish calendar that I hardly think of Rosh Hashanah as a New Year.  Sometimes it just feels like just another holiday, another day.  I don't know that I feel there is anything new about it or that we are somehow starting a new cycle.  

I guess maybe that's life as a relatively new parent.  You just keep going.  Another day, another meal, another load of laundry.  Another holiday, another lesson, another reminder to work on the inside as well as the outside (although anyone with young kids knows that tending to the outside can be sorely lacking sometimes).  

The time between holidays is the time to think about the lessons the holidays are trying to teach us.  Each holiday is associated with energy of the season.  For example, the lights of Chanukah comes during the darkness of winter.  It seems odd that Rosh Hashanah that we ultimately celebrate as the New Year comes during the time when plants are starting to die off.  Leaves are changing colour, the tomato plants are starting to die off in my garden.  Yet Rosh Hashanah is associated with Teshuvah and starting over.  

Visibly, nothing seems new, except maybe the slight adjustment of the wardrobe with milder temperatures.  The newness then has to come from inside.  I guess I will have to choose that this Rosh Hashanah will be a true new start to a different direction, or at least an improved one.  


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