Preparing for the High Holidays
It’s More Than Making Chicken Stock. It’s About Taking Stock.
The High Holidays are quickly approaching and if we don’t properly prepare we cannot fully experience their true meaning. Many of us entered the dates of the High Holidays in our calendars last year and finalized our plans months ago. We know who will host which night and who brings each dish. We’ve ordered tickets for services, selected what we’ll wear to Synagogue and made our grocery lists.
Despite all that preparation, we often neglect to prepare our hearts and our minds for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The holidays need not feel somber and heavy. Rather it’s a time of inspiration, to celebrate reconnection and new beginnings.
Take time to open your mind and heart during the holidays
Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, literally means, head of the year. It’s the time to take stock, gain clarity and a deeper sense of self-awareness. The Hebrew word Rosh means head and Shanah means to change. So, another way to interpret the meaning of Rosh Hashanah is to change your mind set.
In between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we are given 10 days of introspection to reflect upon where we were last year and where we’d like to be this year; to contemplate and identify what we’d like to change about ourselves. You know the one thing that is repeatedly on your mind and keeps popping up, it just gnaws at you? That might just be the thing that you are meant to work on. Set your focus on that.
Wake up Call
The shofar, like a spiritual alarm clock, awakens us from our mental slumber. It’s our signal to focus on that one thing you’d like to change and take action.
Each year we are given the opportunity to begin the new year with a clean slate. By weeding out the unwanted misdeeds of the previous year, we make room to sow new seeds for good deeds to grow.
Tashlich which means cast off, is a symbolic ritual of casting away our sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread into a flowing body of water. The ritual is meaningful and easy for people of all ages. As you throw each bread crumb into the water attach (in your mind or aloud) the misdeed you are tossing out. It is quite liberating and if you haven’t already, try it!
The Hebrew word Teshuvah is typically associated with repentance during the High Holidays. However, Teshuvah actually means return. When we repent by practicing the four stages of Teshuvah below, we return to our best, pure selves.
- Recognize the misdeed
- Feel and verbalize sincere regret of the misdeed
- Repair or undo any damage done (ask forgiveness of a person who was harmed)
- Choose not to repeat the behavior again
The High Holidays generate feelings of renewal. As we gain clarity through introspection, we emerge fresh, renewed.
So, this year, come into the High Holidays prepared. Plan for the meal and choose your outfits, but take time to ready your mind and heart as well. As you simmer that chicken stock, remember to take stock. When you hear the Shofar, wake up and resolve to do better. As you dip apples into honey, make it a sweet year, for not only yourself but for someone else too.
Written by Amy Hertzberg
Amy Hertzberg has a Master’s in Social Work and is a Certified Professional Life Coach. She specializes in coaching women and parents. To learn more about Amy, AIM Parent Coaching and Aim Life Coaching, please visit www.amyhertzberg.com.