The Jewish New Year has always been a very different kind of celebration than the secular New Year. Instead of going to New Year’s Eve parties, we go to shul. The Jewish New Year is celebratory, but it is also serious and filled with deep reflection and introspection. We are encouraged to do a cheshbon ha nefesh, an accounting of our souls. We need to take a deep look at what we did in the past, so that we can be better in the future.
As we prepare to turn the page on 2020, there is hope in the air. With the arrival of the vaccines last week, we are ready to put the past year behind us and look towards 2021 with optimism and hope. Some have suggested that 2020 “shouldn’t count,” as one of the hardest years for all of humanity on record. However, simply skipping 2020 would be a mistake.
While we have reason for optimism in the year ahead, we also have a lot of work to do. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and our future to do a cheshbon ha nefesh. Because the only way for 2021 to be better, is if we learn and grow from everything we have been through and experienced this past year.
Despite all of the challenges and the heartbreak, I truly believe that 2020 can and should change us for the good. May we all have the strength, the wisdom and the courage to do the hard work that needs to be done, to do a real cheshbon ha nefesh, so that in 2021 we can grow, and emerge stronger, more connected to one another, and more vibrant than ever before.
Wishing us all a happier and a healthier New Year, and a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch