By Rabbi Zolly Claman
(September 2019) – I’ll never forget it. I brought her on a walk to get some beautiful Jerusalem air. We passed by a lady that we knew from the neighborhood, she worked as a secretary in a nearby medical office. “May I hold her?” she asked, I obliged and passed her my daughter who was born 4 days prior. Our friend made eye contact with the new life and was moved to tears.
Thinking that my daughter represented something she never got to have of her own, I sensitively inquired, “do you have children of you own?” She negated my concern, “yes, yes…I do.” Then she explained what moved her, “it’s just…she has her whole life in front of her, it’s so beautiful.”
Rosh Hashana, the spiritual new year, is a sophisticated day. There are many aspects and angles to appreciate. It is the day of judgment, the day that we coronate the King and the day that we hear the Shofar. There is another aspect that I’d like to bring to light – potential. Rosh Hashana is the day that we celebrate potential.
Why is the day of judgment on the first day of the year? Shouldn’t we be judged on the last day of the year prior? When Judaism tradition teaches that Rosh Hashana is the day of judgment, what it means is that it is the day of investment allocation. G-d peers at your past, but more importantly envisions your potential. Based on the spiritual projection of the individual, there is a divine investment made.
It is a day that we internalize that it matters far more who you will become than who you have been, and who you are committed to being than who you are. On Rosh Hashana we celebrate the path ahead, the road-not-yet-discovered.
What moved our friend on the streets of Jerusalem is the depth and beauty of holding pure potential. Our 4 day old may have not accomplished anything yet, but appreciating all the days, joy, struggles, success and doors is so deep and powerful.
May G-d make the divine investment in each and every one of us and may we all be written in the book of life – set for a sweet new year, full of laughter, joy, health and togetherness.
Zolly Claman is Rabbi at Beth Israel Synagogue, a modern orthodox congregation in Edmonton.