blog | about | contact | origins | help
BLOG

TINSTAAFS (There is No Such Thing as a Fresh Start)

Share Share
We are very nearly at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. “New Year” conjures all sorts of lovely, promising phrases like “fresh start,” “clean slate” and “new beginnings.” As part of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, we pray that, “May this year with all of its curses end, and let the new year with all of its blessings begin.”
 
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing. There’s no simple shedding of last year, whether it was cursed or not, and donning a new skin for the new year.
 
Yes, the new year is an opportunity for resolutions and improvement, new energy and fresh focus. We are excited about what this coming year will bring. But while we are forging ahead, we are still carrying with us everything the past year wrought as well.
 
Can we ever really “put something behind us” and move on? No. That thing, whether good or bad, has left an indelible mark on us. It affects our decision making and the way we will approach new experiences in the coming year.
 
For example, in Israel, thanks to an “open-ended ceasefire,” we were able to start the new school year siren-free. Which meant no more sleeping in the safe room, no more calculating how to plan our day around proximity to bomb shelters, no more wondering if we’d be able to pull off to the side of the road and get three kids out of the car in time. But does that mean we have “put the war behind us?” Are we “moving on” to a “fresh start?” No. The lingering effects of the war remain. Car engines revving, with their striking familiarity to the sound of sirens, still make my heart race for a second. When I mentioned my grandmother, my 4-year-old asked where she was. “She died,” I explained. “Oh, from a bad soldier?” he asked sympathetically. Because what he learned from this summer is: Death is the effect, bad guys are the cause. (I explained that not everyone who dies does so during a war.) And yes, though these effects will surely lessen over the years, we’re foolish to think we won’t carry the events of the summer of 2014 with us for a long, long time.
 
Whether last year (or years, or decade, etc.) was great, terrible or somewhere in between, the events that transpired will certainly affect how we enter this new year. And to think otherwise is a naïve, dumbed-down view of how we function in the world. We cannot simply forget the past and sally forth to a bright new future. As thinking, cognizant humans, we are a sum total of our experiences, actions and relationships. Whether blessed or cursed, these experiences have taken root and helped shape us.
 
I don’t mean this to sound depressing. In fact it’s the opposite—to use one of this century’s favorite words, it’s empowering. The new year is beckoning us to own what we’ve done, who we’ve met, what’s happened to us—both for good and bad. We need to acknowledge how it’s affected us and reflect on how we can use it to move forward. The goal is not to wipe the slate clean, but to take that banged-up slate and add another unique layer of colors and dents.
 
*****************************
JVO-niverse, like the land of Israel, I am going on sabbatical for a while. I leave you in the thought-provoking, informative and entertaining hands of the other JVO bloggers. Before I take my leave, I would like to extend a big thank you to the Powers That Be at Jewish Values Online, who have been nothing but encouraging and supportive during the past 3+ years. And a special thank you to my husband, who has listened to me flesh out many posts in their vague, pre-formed state (“So here’s the idea … What do you think?), as well as adding his editing skills and two-cents to a not-insignificant number of posts.
 
Chag sameach, and I look forward to returning and sharing my ramblings with you.

Share Share

 
 
 
 
 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Delivered by FeedBurner

Jewish Values Online

Home | Search For Answers | Ask A Question | About | Contact Us | OriginsUseful Links | Blog | Help | Site Map

Copyright 2014 all rights reserved. Jewish Values Online
 
N O T I C E
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
NECESSARILY REFLECT OR REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE OR REFORM MOVEMENTS, RESPECTIVELY.