Happy New Year! It’s officially the beginning of 2018, and like always, the new year brings promise, excitement, and potential.
For Jews, this isn’t the only New Year we’ll be marking. The Jewish calendar actually has four new years; the most famous is Rosh Hashanah. Our ancient calendar makes time to mark a new yearly cycle for the crucial things which influenced our ancestors’ lives: tithes and taxes, farmland, produce, kingship, and religious holidays.
With such a full calendar, January 1st doesn’t play a role in the Jewish year. That doesn’t mean that the beginning of a different solar cycle doesn’t have anything to teach us, though.
Different countries and cities inaugurate the New Year differently: in London, a stunning fireworks display explodes around the city’s iconic bridges; New Yorkers hold a collective breath as they wait for the ball to drop; people world-over will lean into their loved one to share a kiss as the clock strikes 12.
Equally iconic? New Year’s Resolutions.
The custom stems from ancient civilizations: more than four millennia back, the Babylonians made promises to their deities, hoping that they’d be blessed with a good year ahead.
The tradition seems to have stuck, probably because the idea really resonates. The beginning of the New Year seems like the perfect time for introspection and laying the ground for what we want to achieve in the next 12 months.
Understandably, many Jews will do this ahead of Rosh Hashanah, a practice that should absolutely be commended. There doesn’t seem to be a contradiction here, though. Many people’s Rosh Hashanah thoughts are between them and God: these resolutions revolve around their observance of Judaism and relationship with God.
The beginning of the new calendar year, however, offers the perfect time to reflect on the things you want for you. Whether you want to get in shape, create time for mindfulness and meditation, learn a new language, or read more meaningful books, the beginning of a fresh year is the perfect time to make a fresh start.
Seem like a lot of thinking? That may not be a bad thing. Judaism encourages us to grow in ourselves and to strive for that growth, on every level, every day. It teaches us to want to be the best versions of ourselves – and for many of us, that includes our personal goals and not just religious ones. It’s actually kind of nice to have extra time built in for self-reflection, and time to plan our path to self-improvement for the year ahead.
Judaism also teaches us that there’s no time like the present. An infamous line from Proverbs teaches us that “if not now, when?” – and the beginning of the New Year gives you a perfect opportunity to get started.
Whatever you want for yourself this year – be it spending more time with your family, mastering Japanese, or learning to cook – don’t wait to start living your dreams. Make those resolutions – and stick to them!
Wishing you a successful and fulfilling 2018 from everyone at Judaica WebStore. Happy New Year!