Monday, December 29, 2014

New Years?

We don’t normally see New years day as a sacred holiday in America. Which begs the question, how should a believer treat new years day. The obvious place to draw inspiration is how the ancient Hebrews treated the New Year. 

The Hebrews did in fact celebrate the New Year with a ten day festival called the Days of Awe. It begins on the first days of Tishri of the Hebrew calendar. Current Jews refer to it as Rosh Hashanah. (head of the year) However Biblical era Jews called it by, Yom Ha-Zikkaron  (day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (day of trumpets). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:23-25. The festival ended with Yom Kippur. (day of atonement) Which is described in Leviticus 16. 

This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and planning the changes to make in the new year. One of the ongoing theme of the Days of Awe is the concept that God has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter God's decree. The actions that change the decree are repentance, prayer, and good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time of “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.

How will you spend your new years eve? In serious introspection considering the last year and what kind of foundation it will make for the next? Or will you, engage in empty celebration for celebrations sake?

A woman seeing a favorable reflection in a fun house mirror.