The secular New Year is right around the corner, and many of us are thinking about resolutions. For some of us those may include taking better care of our bodies, or tending to our relationships. Others of us, however, may be thinking about our spiritual or religious practice. If you’ve been looking for a way to increase your Jewish knowledge or observance, mitzvot are a great place to start. .
The word mitzvah is often understood as “good deed” but it actually means “commandment” and there are officially 613 of them. You’re probably already observing some of them, such as not cross-breeding animals, and some of them might not apply to you, unless you were actually wondering whether or not you can marry a third-generation Edomite convert (as far as I can tell, you can).
The start of the secular New Year is just around the corner, and it’s a great opportunity to begin adopting other mitzvot into your life. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be terribly religious, there are many ways to modify the mitzvot so they will be meaningful for you and your family.
So, in mostly no particular order, here are my Top Ten Mitzvot For the New Year:
1. Celebrating the Jewish holidays. You might already be lighting candles during Hanukkah, attending a seder during Passover, or dragging the family to services for Rosh Hashanah, but perhaps this year you’ll consider eating some new foods for Tu Bishvat, dressing up for Purim, or building a sukkah. I’m even planning to fast for Yom Kippur this year!
2. Teach your children. According to the Torah, Jewish parents are obligated to teach their children Torah, a trade, and how to swim. In addition to signing up for swim lessons down at your local JCC, now is a great time to start teaching your children about Judaism if you aren’t already. Kveller has a ton of wonderful ideas, and the PJ Library sends free books to Jewish children. Read the rest of this entry →