The Internal Experience of Rosh Hashanah

The Internal Experience of Rosh Hashanah
Dear G –d:

By the time you read this letter, (I hope) I’ll be gone…

The tune from the infamous “Dear John” song frequently rings in my head with G-d’s name in place of John’s. And, I think in G-d’s case, the fact that I’m gone is a good thing. It symbolizes the change and development that has taken place. We don’t want to be where we were. Our evolving souls want to grow and change and improve constantly.

It is hard to believe that Rosh Hashanah is nearly upon us, and we are about to stand before G-d in judgment. It’s like summer vacation passing by so quickly. It leaves us with many items on our “To Do” list – many things that haven’t been crossed off or experienced yet.

What was it that consumed all our time and inhibited us from achieving many of our goals? How did we become so caught up in the day-to-day necessities of life that the necessary parts of our days were neglected?

Rosh Hashanah is the perfect time for a “Dear G-d” letter. It affords one the opportunity for self-evaluation, for setting future goals and for getting in touch with the values, rituals or habits that may have been neglected along the way.

Rosh Hashanah also provides the occasion for acknowledging the accomplishments that were achieved throughout the year. When it comes to self-appraisal, we tend to focus on the negative, and, in turn, we neglect the areas of progress, hard work and devotion. Rosh Hashanah is the perfect time to explore both our developments and our regressions.

Here are some suggestions for completing a self-assessment over the last year.

First, recognize the achievements that have taken place. If you have a “record” of those achievements, spend some time reviewing the place you started from and where you ended up. You may be surprised to see how far you have come.

Next, name the areas of your life where you would like to continue to move forward. Notice that this is not stated in the negative. It is not a means to make you feel bad but merely an opportunity to look at future growth. You might want to work on a personality characteristic, increase your level of observance or achieve a specific goal within your career.

Spend some time defining what these goals look like from your point of view. What does “learn more about my Jewish faith” mean to you? Specifically, what kind of career goals do you want to achieve? It’s important to know what you are shooting for before you take a shot at it.

Finally, create a realistic action plan for achieving your objectives. Think it through every step of the way. If you want to improve your level of patience, for example, there are steps you can take to achieve that goal. You can research and read pertinent books. You can keep a log of how well you managed your level of tolerance throughout the day. You can pay attention to your triggers, engage in activities that enhance your ability to remain calm or connect with a friend who can help you achieve your goal.

Rosh Hashanah is a moment during the year where we pause to assess our way of being, our devotion to G-d, and our purpose in life. We do this by examining our actions throughout the year. Have we lived up to our greatest potential? What attributes have we neglected?

The Jewish New Year is an opportunity to accept responsibility for the choices we’ve made along the way – not to beat ourselves up over the mistakes but to take responsibility for them and commit to moving forward.

Begin your preparations for Rosh Hashanah by looking inside. Be your own CEO and sit down for a year end evaluation.

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