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Rosh Hashanah 5780

  |   Holidays, Institutional, Judaism

Rosh haShana, Jewish new year, is different from popular new year celebrations known in different cultures and religions around the world as it is not a overjoys carnival like festival of expectations for the new beginnings, merrymaking and fun. Rosh haShana combines joyous celebration and anticipation for new beginnings with anxiety and trembling before God who judges our deeds through the past year on this day. We trust our God is merciful and forgiving, but we also know that God can see and know all, nothing could be hidden from God.

Rosh haShana has a mixed character, it is a mirror of our existence where all is mixed. Very seldom we have moments of pure joy or sorrow, most of our lives we experience mixed emotions. And thus, Rosh haShana is true and accurate representation of life, no idealizations nor exaggerations. Joy and fear, celebrating and trembling mixed together.

On Rosh haShana God will judge us in accordance with our deeds. It is frightening to stand before the Judge of the Universe, but it is also optimistic as we are judged *only* for our actions. It gives us control and ability to influence our destiny: everything depends on us. There is no random and whimsical deity who does as it pleases. But rather the Righteous merciful Judge who won’t miss any good deed. It is our responsibility to make our best to make sure there are enough good deeds to prevail our shortcomings.

God does not judge us for our feelings nor for thoughts but for our words and deeds. It is natural and human to have all kinds of fleeting thoughts that are not all good and pure. Many times, we have feelings that makes us feel embarrassed afterwards. But all the time we don’t surrender to talk and act according to our unfortunate thoughts and angry feelings, we may hope for a favorable judgement. It is all in our hands. We need to try to translate our trembling before the Judge into the actions of good will in God’s world.

Let it be God’s will that we’ll merit to be inscribed into the Book of Life, and in the new year we increase our merits through good deeds.

Rabbi Alona Lisitsa
The first female Rabbi in Israel to join a religious council. PhD from the University of Tel Aviv in Talmud and Ancient Texts and sponsored Rabbi for Spain and Portugal (EUBD), also in charge of rabbinic mentoring at the Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem.