Rosh Hashanah Message: Rabbi Jason Holtz
Rosh HashanahCommunity

Rosh Hashanah Message: Rabbi Jason Holtz

Rabbi Jason Holtz shares his thoughts and inspiration for the Jewish New Year.

Rabbi Jason Holtz
Rabbi Jason Holtz

The two High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are linked. On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate Creation and on Yom Kippur, we forgive and ask for forgiveness. These seemingly different themes are actually very well matched because forgiveness is a creative act. The pain of wrong doing can last a while. People can remember the hurt they experienced for years. Forgiveness is not about changing the past, which cannot be changed. Nor is it about simply forgetting or ignoring what happened. Rather, forgiveness is a deliberate choice on what sort of future one wants to create.

It is a decision not to invest emotional energy into nursing old wounds or bearing resentment. It means that one can say that even though something wrong was done, and even though pain and hurt were caused, the future will not be based solely on that. We often think of forgiveness as something that is offered between two different people. Sometimes, though, we need to forgive ourselves of our own shortcomings. Regret and guilt can occasionally be a useful, important catalyst for self-improvement. But when the lessons are learnt, the focus can be on who we are now and who we want to be, not solely past deficits. That is a form of forgiveness.

Our High Holy Day prayers say, “On Rosh Hashanah it is written.” The medieval sage Bachya ibn Pakuda has a profound understanding what it means to “write” something. He said, “Days are like scrolls, write on them what you wish.”

On Rosh Hashanah, the day celebrating Creation, we are asked to think about what sort of future we want to write. So, in the words of the prompt suggested by the AJT for this column, Reach for the Stars – Be All You Can Be – Become Whoever You Want to Be. Be a Star in 5784 and let us use forgiveness when writing about our days. L’shanah tovah u’metukah, a sweet and good New Year to everyone!

Rabbi Jason Holtz is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Kehillat Chaim in Roswell, Ga.

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