A Bisl Torah

The Magic of the New Year

One of my favorite traditions during the secular new year is a semi-annual deep organizing of my home. I go through my children’s closets and take out clothing now a size too small. I throw out old spice jars and check out the expiration dates on condiments in the pantry. Nothing escapes my scrutiny: linens, the refrigerator, desk drawers and kitchen cabinets. The purging of the “old” gives me mental space to allow for the emergence of the “new”.

And although the tradition is a rigorous cleaning, something magical inevitably creeps through. As I went through the hand towels, a few of Annie’s baby swaddles somehow got mixed in. Memories of holding her washed over me. Touching the fabric, I could remember her sweet newborn smell and hear her newborn cries.

Cleaning seems like a simple ritual and yet, this new year’s tradition permitted an essential visitation with the past. With the passage of time, we are encouraged to rush forward, embracing the new. But instead, we can acknowledge what has transpired, offer gratitude for our experiences, learn from those moments, and then, walk forward. As I held those newborn swaddles, I wanted to whisper to myself (ten years ago), “You won’t believe the amazing pre-teen you will get to raise. But don’t rush this. This hard moment, it will pass. And you will move forward quicker than you think.”

And so, I remind myself now, “Don’t rush this. This hard moment, it will pass. Walk forward but don’t run away too quickly.”

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana is also known as Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembrance. On one of the holiest moments of the year, we start with recalling our life’s deeds to forge a path towards improvement. We hold together the past with the future, not allowing our history to label or define us, but rather advising the shape of the life we wish to lead.

In this secular new year, may the memories of your past inspire your future.

Who knew that a little cleaning could really be so magical?

Happy New Year and Shabbat Shalom

In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.

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