“Really?” you might say. “Yes, really,” I would say. Each of us gets this gift each year if we only embrace it and make it important to us.
Last month, I asked you to prepare for a smooth landing as we can begin to see the new year in sight. Now I suggest you relax and focus on yourselves and the people around you who bring meaning to your life. Think about the people who support you and love you, the people who need your love and support. Then ask for Hashem’s guidance so you can make good decisions and stay focused on the year to come.
While Rosh Hashanah is a time most look ahead to the coming year, let’s not forget to look back and take some credit or at least remind ourselves of the mitzvot we have been fortunate enough to make a part of our life and touch someone else’s.
Now is the time, right now. Stop for a moment and recall a mitzvah you did and, even more important, ponder a mitzvah someone did for you. There is tremendous power in expressing the gratitude that comes when someone does a mitzvah for you. Evoke those feelings and embrace them. Share them with your friends and family, especially children so they know how special it truly is to feel the mitzvot.
Yes, we look ahead with hope for tomorrow and gratitude for yesterday. Today and the next days leading to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, keep your loved ones in mind and in your heart as we use the immense power of prayer to join Jews around the world to collectively ask Hashem for forgiveness, express gratitude for all the goodness of the past year and pray with all your heart that the coming year be filled with good health, joy and prosperity.
But let’s not forget to ask for the ability to recognize the opportunities we have to make the world a better place and take the action needed to fulfill G-d’s plan. Being zayde makes it easy for me to find those opportunities, and I thank Hashem and my family for that. It can be easy for you too by just taking pause to look around and pay little attention. Dinner, fasting, shul, being with family and feeling gratitude are part of ushering in the new year and the holidays we celebrate during this time. Embrace it, enjoy it and know it makes a difference in your life and in this world.
Good Yontiv and have an easy fast.
Vito Simone is a Pikesville resident and a member of Moses Monefiore Anshe Emunah.