L'shana tova...
Wishing you all a good New Year...

      The phrase, "l'shana tova" or just "shana tova" has become the accepted wish or greeting that we wish to others for the New Year.  But what exactly is a "shana tova" a "good year?"  What may be "good" for one of us, may not be "good" for another.  Sure, there are things which we feel are universally "good;"  health, financial security, love, family harmony, peace... These are just a few of the things that most people want.  Each of us has needs that we hope will be filled in the coming year to cause it to be a "good year."    

Each year, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and the beginning of this 10 day period on the Jewish calendar which calls us to examine ourselves, our behavior, our hopes and our dreams, I find myself thinking of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by the Eagles, "Take it to the Limit.

And when you're looking for your freedom
(Nobody seems to care)
And you can't find the door
(Can't find it anywhere)
When there's nothing to believe in
Still you're coming back, you're running back
You're coming back for more

So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time

Each year, I say to myself, here we go again.  Time to look at what progress I've made.  Have I done what I wanted to accomplish last year?  Have I grown in the ways I feel I should?  Often, I feel that I've fallen short of the goals that I've set for myself.  I feel as the Eagles described, that I've been "looking for freedom and you can't find the door."  It can be disheartening.  Frustrating.  Demoralizing.  

But yet, somehow, for some reason, there's a light inside that isn't extinguished and so I find myself "coming back for more" and on this highway of the High Holy Days hoping to be "shown a sign" so that in the coming year, I can "take it to the limit one more time," and realize that I am granted a chance to "take it to the limit" and still grown and evolve in every way possible.  

The sound of the shofar is meant just for that. It's there to wake us up from living a life of routine, rote, and settling so that we can push ourselves to take ourselves to the limit of who we can become.  As you listen to the shofar this year, I encourage you to take some moments to think about what are those limits you would like to surpass? What are the boundaries of settling that you would like to break free from?

Finally, as we sit down at the table tonight next to our families and friends or as we stand next to them in synagogue tomorrow, maybe we should take a moment to realize that each of the people near us, in our family, our friends, and our communities has specific things that are missing in their lives that they need in order for it to be a "good year."  Some people need more financial stability.  Others may need courage to make changes in their lives.  Still others might need time to recover from a family loss over the past year.  

No one wants to be plain and cookie cutter and truthfully none of us are.  We all have different needs.  Let's try and remember what each other person's needs are as well so that we can find our own role in helping them with their needs.  The more we do that, the more we can take ourselves to our limits as well.

Wishing all of you and your loved ones a shana tova.

Rabbi Gary Katz

My goal, no matter my job title or position, is always the same: To help each person and each family, develop a positive feeling about their relationship with Judaism, themselves, God, and others.

A rabbi for every occasion.
A relationship for life.Serving the Greater Tri-State Area
(NY, NJ, CT)

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