New Years Eve x 2

How lucky the Jews are. We have two new years every year. On the first, usually in September, we meditate. On the second, always on 31 December, we celebrate.

On the first new year’s eve we are extremely sober. On the second one, we are far from sobriety.

On the September new year we pray solemnly, we beat our chests in confessing our sins. In the December new year we put our prayers temporarily aside and contemplate on the day’s new sins.

In September the new year is heralded in by 100 blasts on the ram’s horn. In December we hear the blasts on all kinds of horns.

In September we throw all our sins away in hope of forgiveness. In December we throw away the torn shreds of confetti in hope of clearing away finally the used scraps of papers which we have needlessly collected.

One new year’s eve is holy. Another one is heavenly. On one we weep for our sins. On another we laugh for our pleasures. The first one is celestial. The second one is secular. And we are thankful for both.

On both new years we make resolutions and on both we break resolutions. On the first new year we drink wine to sanctify the day. On the second new year we drink champagne to toast the bar-tender.

Both years are anticipated with a sense of passion and compassion. On both, we vow to share good-will to one another.

How fortunate we are to have two annual occasions in which to observe the glories of the Master of the Universe and to praise, proclaim, and bless His holy Name.

On the September new year we wend our way to synagogues for very long hours of prayer. On the December new year we wend our way from one party to another happily drinking cups of cheer to Sylvester.

But the lessons of the eve and the following day are reminders of our fragility and of our need to be dependent on a Higher unseen Power.

In the days of the September new year we dance around with the holy scrolls of the Torah. In the December holiday we dance around with one another embracing the friendship and the love with which we have been blessed.

I am strictly observant of the new year in September but not observant of the day in December. For me, it represents only tearing off a page on the calendar. As my mother used to say “od shanah, od shanah…another year, another year”. Will it be the same or will it be different?

In September we are bound to follow the words and recite the prayers of several hundred pages in the holy books. No custom or tradition accompanies the new year of December.

Yet we have one thing in common with which to greet both new years. We can wish one another a “shanah tovah u’metuka”… a good and sweet new year in September and again in December.

With all the tensions and conflicts in our lives, both new years offer us the opportunity to reflect, to look deeper into our inner souls, to challenge ourselves to climb to greater heights and to achieve the things we long for.

Ma tov chelkainu… how good is our portion. Ma na-im goralainu… how pleasant is our destiny.

May New Year’s Eve x 2 be a blessing for us and for the entire household of the people of Israel.

May we always be worthy of being faithful servants to the One True God, Creator of us all.

And may we live in peace and tranquility in 2020. Ken yehi ratzon. Insh’Allah. So may it be ! (Amen).

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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