Confronting the Uncomfortable: A Message for the New Year

Well it is that wonderful time of year again! The High Holidays of the Jewish calendar. This time can signify different feelings for different people. The person fasting for the first time may experience anxiety, while a young adult may feel relieved to have some days off from their stressful job. Rosh Hashanah is certainly a time reserved for self-reflection and introspection. It is when the observer has an honest look at themselves in the mirror and asks questions such as “What can I improve on?” or “How can I change myself for the better?” But if you’re like me, you may ask yourself these questions year in and year out without yielding much change.

The days and weeks following the High Holy Days roll by in the inevitable march of time. Some initial changes have been made, potentially starting a new diet or a meditation practice in the morning before work. Unfortunately, these new practices don’t last as long as you’d like them to. If you observe human nature, you will see that in it exists a desire for quiescence and a state of repetition. It is often difficult to pull ourselves out of our comfort zone. Luckily, as Jews, we have a beautiful tradition that reminds us once a year to make this attempt. On Rosh Hashanah we are called to not only examine our life and how we are leading it, but also to attempt to change it for the better. We all have that little voice inside our heads. Sometimes, this voice can be very comforting. Alternatively, this voice can also cause us great deals of stress. During this period of introspection, it is important to listen to this voice. I find that this voice is often challenging me, usually calling me to exceed my greatest self-potential. For some people, this voice can be equated to one’s heart or soul talking to them. Whether you believe it is your heart or your soul communicating with you or neither of the two, the voice oftentimes presents a message of change. Rosh Hashanah is a time to recognize that life is about change, and this should be seen as a positive (albeit uncomfortable) phenomenon.

For years, my little voice has been telling me to make Aliyah and move to Israel. I have gone back and forth about this idea with my little voice for so long and yet the conversation continues to enter my mind. Moving halfway across the world will certainly be an enormous change for my life. It will be a difficult move to leave my friends and family, and if you know anything about Israeli bureaucracy, it will also be stressful at times. Confronting the uncomfortable is an essential ingredient in self-improvement. It is a stepping stone in actually achieving the sustainable change you want to see in yourself. One of the beauties of human-kind is the degree of variance one can find between just two people. Everyone has their different aspects of themselves they want to alter, which ultimately will require distinctive solutions. In order to arrive at these solutions, I believe it is imperative for all of us to listen and confront the voice in our head, heart, or soul.

Our sages relate the blowing of the shofar to a “waking up” of sorts. A realization of your freedom and the fact that you can start anew. You can become the best version of yourself, and that it’s all entirely up to you. And so this Rosh Hashanah, I encourage you to truly reflect on what your heart is asking of you and to respond to it. Take some time to reflect on what is calling you to action or change. At this current moment in my life, it is to make Aliyah to Israel. What is it for you?  Seeing life as a constant state of development in which we never truly finish the task of searching, bettering, progressing, regressing, and progressing again is exactly how I attempt to interface with our existence. It is easy to do what is comfortable. It is revolutionary to do what is uncomfortable. On Rosh Hashanah, we should all attempt to start a revolution within ourselves. Shana Tova!

Shana Tova


About the Author
Josh Less is a Rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, CA. His interests range from Middle Eastern History and politics to health and nutrition. He is a lover of Torah, hiking, Israel, and music. He studied International Relations with a focus on the Middle East before pursuing the Rabbinate.
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