How many of us will say last year sucked and I’m ready to put it behind me and start a New Year?
Well, if we want the year ahead to be better than the year behind, we have to know our head from our feet. Notice, the Jewish holiday is not called the Jewish New Year but rather Rosh Hashana, meaning the HEAD of the year.
What’s the head got to do with it?
The answer: Just as the head is the command center that directs the rest of the body—our arms, our feet, our tongue etc. — so too Rosh Hashana is the command center that creates the energies that will tell the rest of the year what to do.
Basically, Rosh Hashana is like a time release capsule: what you put into will sustain you or poison you in the days ahead. That is why it’s tradition not to sleep the whole day on the holiday because it’s believed that if we do then we will sleep the whole year away. That is why Jews pray feverishly for life on Rosh Hashana not so that we will live only that day, but for the entire year to come. And that is why many people won’t eat nuts on RH, because the numerical value of the word “nut” in Hebrew is equal to the word “sin,” and God forbid we should sin the entire year ahead—unless it’s really worth it!
Another reason we call it Rosh Hashana is because it’s at this time of year where we must use our heads to think and analyze what went wrong in the past. This auspicious time gives us the intellectual opportunity and responsibility to assess ourselves with diligence. You see yesterday is not something to run away from like a mugger trying to take something from you, rather it’s a guru with something great to give.
Before Jacob passed away, he gathered all his sons, the future 12 tribes of Israel, to bless them. However, he knew that in order for his sons to have any chance at a healthy tomorrow, they had to take a reckoning of their past. And so, in his last breath, Jacob tells off those who sinned and points out their faults, their flaws and misbehaviors, sounding much more like a Jewish mother than a father.
It’s our duty too, as mothers and fathers of our own destinies, to go into the new year with our HEADS and not our feet. In fact the Hebrew word for foot, regel, has the same root word as ragil, which means like usual. And the lesson is we can’t let our foot (regel) lead the year (kragil). Remember Einstein said that one can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result.
Every new year most people make resolutions as to how they can improve themselves: This year I want to lose weight; this year I want to learn Spanish; this year I want to make something of myself. These are great goals, but usually by day three our hands are back in the cookie jar and we are back to old habits, letting our feet lead the way instead of our minds and our will. As obedient victims of habit, we again let out habits victimize us and hold us bound to what is small in us and not what is great.
It’s never enough to simply hope the New Year brings you great things. Success or failure lay in what you bring to the new year: yesterday’s habits, yesterday’s wrong friends, yesterday’s shopping cart, or a determined HEAD that will guide you to your own personal greatness.
Shana Tova and may our heads always prevail and tell our feet what to do and not the other way around.