Yom Kippur begins tonight. I heard something from a friend of mine that he read on a Jewish website that resonated with me and I thought I would share it for Yom Kippur.
Shana Tova is how we say Happy New Year, but the literal translation is “Good Year.” There is a word in Hebrew for happy, of course (there’s not one for “like” though, just “love.” Interesting, right?! The Hebrew grammar nerd in me loves tidbits like that). But we don’t wish each other a Happy New Year, we wish each other a Good one.
What does this mean? Well, for starters, I don’t know God’s thoughts. No one can know God’s thoughts. Einstein famously said, “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are mere details.” But we can’t know. God is unknowable, and we can only grasp a sliver of the entirety that is the infinite Ein Sof (literally, Without End).
I don’t know what God wants for me or my parents or my ex or my kids or you. What I do know is that God is the Source of everything, and only God knows what “Good” is. When we wish each other a Good Year, we acknowledge that God alone gets to decide what is Good, and it may not always make sense to us, and it may not always feel good, but it is good in the sense that it’s God’s will. And we use the word “good” to describe that.
I know I sound like a crazy religious fanatic, but I don’t think I am. I have been taught to pray not for what I want or what I think should happen, because God is not a candy machine. You don’t put in a quarter and get out a gumball. I try and pray for God to do whatever it is God does, and I pray for the ability to accept whatever that may be.
Acceptance doesn’t mean I have to like it. It just means working towards not fighting every single thing all the time every day. And honestly, it feels good not to do that because I did that for most of my life and it’s exhausting. I am happy to have found some spiritual peace for myself. It makes me less anxious, less depressed, and more able to try and be a walking example of the qualities we are told God has in The 13 Attributes we recite on the High Holidays. These are things like being gracious, compassionate, patient, slow to anger, kind, faithful, loving, and forgiving. (For the full list, click HERE)
I hope that this year is good. I really do. I hope I can be in acceptance of God’s plan for me and my family. There may be happy times and there may be sad times, and I assume there will be both because that’s kind of how life seems to work. But with the perspective that it’s all good–literally–I think that just maybe it can be.
Bring it on, 5774.