Judaism: Rosh Hashannah Moon-Walk
Yonatan SredniYonatan Sredni lives in Israel and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bar Ilan University.
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is here again. It’s a time for looking back on the year that was and looking ahead to the year to come.
As we do each year at this time, we’ll make resolutions, vow to improve ourselves and tell ourselves that ‘this year will be different’.
But change is hard. Sure we want to change, but we don’t even know where to start. Plus, it seems far away from us, too much of an effort.
In this week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, which is always read on the Shabbat prior to Rosh Hashana, we read: “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.
Our Rabbis explain that these verses are referring to Tshuvah (repentance). God knows that it’s hard to change our habits, but the Torah reassures us that it’s not as far away as you think. It’s not in heaven, nor over the sea, it’s all within your grasp.
Still, it seems overwhelming. I love the scene in the movie City Slickers where Billy Crystal's character, Mitch, is alone with Curly (the old gruff cowboy), played by Jack Palance. Curly is giving Mitch some life advice.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean s***.
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?" Curly: That's what you have to find out.
In the end, Mitch discovers that the ‘one thing’ is different for each person. What's your one thing? It can be something small. There is a famous quote that says, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” All we need to do is start with one small step.
Neil Armstrong, an American astronaut and the first person to walk on the moon, passed away less than a month ago. He will always be remembered for his famous quote as he stepped foot on the moon, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
If we all take one small step, if we all do one small ‘thing’ to make a change for the better, it doesn’t matter what ‘thing’ we do, it’s different for each person. Well, then we’ll really fulfill Armstrong’s words this Rosh Hashana, and really have a happy and sweet new year.
All it takes is for each of us to take, “one small step,” which will hopefully lead to “one giant leap for mankind!”