mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

Thoughts on Rosh Hashanah 5770, Somber and Sacrilegious

It should be no surprise to people that I haven't had the time to post on my blog as often as I used to; as I assume everyone knows by now, Nomi and I are now parents of twin infant girls, and that takes up a lot of time and energy. (For more on that, see my earlier post on Traction.) That said, tonight the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins, inaugurating the year 5770 on the Hebrew calendar, and I have some thoughts to share. Not that I consider my own thoughts on the holiday to be of any real significance, but I imagine they might be of interest to some of you.

To begin with, the arrival of 5770 means that we're entering a new decade. I actually remember ten years ago how one friend of mine, noting the arrival of 5760, made a connection to the culture of the 1960s and suggested that the new decade would be similar. I'll leave that question for the historians to answer while I acknowledge that the Hebrew calendar gives me a few months to get used to the arrival of a new decade on the Gregorian calendar.

Speaking of which, this year, amusingly enough, the first day of Rosh Hashanah coincides with September 19 on the Gregorian calendar. As everyone knows, September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which led many of us who noticed this happy coincidence to wonder if this year Rosh Hashanah should also be International Daven Like a Pirate Day. Part of me was expecting to see more jokes and references on this topic as Rosh Hashanah approached, but instead, it seems to have fallen by the wayside (other than the two posts I just linked to, one of which suggests among other things adding the phrase "And who by walking the plank" to Unetaneh Tohkef). My guess is that most people continue to find the holiday too awesome to joke about.

And awesome it is. As others have said much better than I can, Rosh Hashanah is (or can be) an awe-inspiring holiday, in which we contemplate the birthday of the world and God's sovereignty. It also kicks off the ten days of repentance or Days of Awe, during which many of us undergo major introspection about our lives as we try to figure out how to become better people for the new year. For me, personally, the length and depth of the religious services on these days can sometimes work against my finding the spiritual connection I hope for; but this year, things are different. For the first time in a long time, I actually feel as if God has personally blessed me with the great gift possible, and for that I am thankful.

I would say more, but I'm about to collapse from lack of sleep. :-)

For those of you who are observing this holiday, shanah tovah, and have a happy and healthy new year.

For those of you who are not observing this holiday, have a good weekend and be advised that starting this evening, I will be away from the Internet until Sunday night at the earliest.

For those of you who want to know what it's all about, check out Judaism 101: Rosh Hashanah for a good basic introduction to the holiday.
Tags: jewish, personal

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