Rosh Hashanah: A New Beginning by Aviva Meshwork


Aviva Meshwork is an educator, writer, and Trip Director for the JWRP. Originally from Toronto, she now lives in Israel with her husband and 4 children.

We are moving.  Just typing the word ‘moving’ raises my stress level.  We just did this two years ago when we made Aliyah from Toronto to Israel and here we are again! The boxes, the mess, the renovations, the chaos of a life upside down and the small and not so small issues that come up are all compounding to the stresses of moving.  And of course there are the sweet sounds of the tape guns, moving boxes and the phone constantly ringing with trades people calling!  I do know however that this too shall pass and just like childbirth we somehow forget how painful the process was and (sometimes) we go through it again.  The result is so wonderful and worth it that we put ourselves through it.   As the saying goes- ‘no pain, no gain’ and therefore part of the beautiful blessing of settling in the Land of Israel entails moving your stuff.  So with our idealism in tow and the numbers to pizza places handy, we are packing up and moving to our new home in our beautiful homeland!

I was just in the new house today having a look around before our move-in day next week.  With the paint job finished and the small renos that we did complete, the house that we bought is starting to take on the shape of the house that will be our home.  Everything is so fresh and new and to our taste.  The kids have already shown us where their beds will go and have found some of the cool features of the house.  They call them hiding spots while I call them storage spaces.  In any case, it’s all very exciting for us. (I wonder if the bank feels as excited about owning this home as I do!?)

However before we move into our new home and begin the process of settling in we need to move out of our rental. Much of my day today was spent purging and packing and purging some more. I was simultaneously packing up our belongings while sifting through my things and asking myself, what do I need to bring to my new home and what needs to be donated/returned/thrown out?  What amongst my things is still useful and in good condition versus what is clutter? After all, this stuff is going to my new home and this is a good time to clean up shop. Who wants to schlep their junk to a new house? It’s actually quite therapeutic and there is a part of me that is enjoying this process.  Every time I take a big bag to the garbage or to the donation box I feel a bit lighter, a bit better about what I have and what I don’t need.  It feels good to get rid of what is not useful and have the space for the things that are. 

While the timing of this move is cutting it a little close to Rosh Hashanah (stress level is rising) in some ways it is very timely.  This back and forth that I am having with myself regarding what makes the cut and merits to come to our new home and what doesn’t is not only a good exercise to do when moving, but it also pertains to a personal growth exercise that can be done to prepare for  Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah marks the celebration of the creation of Adam and Eve and the beginning of humankind in the world.  The Arizal explains that every year when a holiday comes around the same spiritual energy that was first revealed on that date is revealed again on a yearly basis. Therefore when it comes to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah the same spiritual energy that has to do with creation, beginning and newness that was present in the world at the time of Creation is the same energy that is brought back again at this time of year.  Every year come Rosh Hashanah we are gifted with the opportunity to tap into that energy and utilize it for our growth. A growth that involves starting over fresh and having some sort of a new beginning- a chance to re- create ourselves.   

As we move out of our ‘old’ year and into our ‘new’ one we can ask ourselves similar questions to those that I am asking myself as I pack up our belongings and prepare to move.  What qualities about myself do I want to take with me this year and what do I want to learn to leave behind? What attitudes, beliefs and behaviors belong in my life and what needs some tweaking or maybe even purging?  What needs physical, spiritual, mental and emotional assessment as I go into the new year? Do I have extra baggage weighing me down? This is a reflective process that requires honesty, time and maybe even the good advice from a friend and/or someone with a Torah perspective. I did this last year and I journaled some of the things that I wanted to work on about myself.  I recall that the process was very clarifying as it allowed me time to think about where I had been, where I was at the time and where I was heading.  In some cases I felt like I was moving forward with my growth and my personal goals and in some areas- not so much.  In any case, some improvements were made which means that I was not the same as I had been the year before.  Now I have been working on leaving the negative stuff that holds me back and entering into my new year a slightly better version of myself.  I am preparing to do this again this year because growth is an ongoing  and important process and I can’t let this opportunity go by.

Warning:  Don’t tackle too much all at once- baby steps!  In the same way that New Year’s resolutions often don’t work because the goals are too far reaching, so too here.  Choosing one or two aspects about yourself that needs your attention and really focusing on them in the coming year will surely have an impact on your level of success. 

It’s past midnight here in the Holy Land and staying up late is one of those things I don’t want to bring with me in the New Year.  However, before I sign off I want to wish us all a Shana Tova U’Metuka! A sweet and happy New Year! May G-d bless us with life, health, safety, strength and clarity- just to mention a few.  Have a meaningful holiday and great year ahead.

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