It seems as though I’ve been in the kitchen for days on end. Rosh Hashana is coming. That means guests, two festive meals, celebratory gatherings, traditional foods. That spells out hours of time in my lovely kitchen and I enjoy it.
But when the silver is polished and the table is set with gleaming china and polished silver, what in fact are we celebrating? What was all this work about?
Jewish women expend a great deal of time and energy in preparing for the various festivals throughout the year. It is too easy to get so caught up with the preparations, the shopping, the baking and the cooking that we forget what’s most important.
Rosh Hashana is the annual ‘Day of Judgment’ when God conducts, as it were, an “annual review” of our lives. He has invested grace, blessings, challenges and faith in us during the past year and on Rosh Hashana He looks for the ‘return on investment’. What have we done with what passed through our lives this past year? Are we bitter or are we better? Have we grown in maturity or have we settled into mediocrity?
We read in the Scriptures that God’s mercies are new every morning and His compassion never fails us. Given that during the past year, whether we took notice or not, He awakened us each morning to the opportunity of a new day in which to grow closer to Him and kinder towards others, what have we done with those 365 opportunities? Are we, in fact, better women today than we were on Rosh Hashana last year?
The term, Day of Judgment, elicits a certain negativity or fear in some people but the truth is that the day of judgment known as Rosh Hashana is a day to celebrate. This is the day we are reminded how much God cares about every thing we do and every word we say. It’s the day that He wants to open your file in the heavenly archives and be able to say “Well done.” It’s also the day that He welcomes your apology for wasting days and weeks and months in useless pursuits or activities. In case you have, this is the day to repent, ask His forgiveness and turn towards Him for a better and more productive future. The act of turning is in itself a decision to which He always responds “Well Done”.
It’s late afternoon here now. My table is set, the food is prepared and the fragrance of apple cake wafts through the house. In about three hours, my guests will have arrived and we’ll be seated around the table, celebrating the God who knows us each by name and cares about us in a very personal way.
This Rosh Hashana, my prayer for you is that in the new year that begins at sundown tonight, you and I will deepen our relationship with Him, the God of Israel, the King of the Universe so that next year at this time, our celebration will be richer, our joy deeper for having invested another year in seeking Him with all our hearts and serving others with compassion & kindness.
Shana Tova u Metuka – May you have a good and sweet year!