Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Morning Kavvanah, 12/31/2010 - Teshuvah in January?

This being New Year's Eve (which, ironically enough, is called "Silvester" in Israel, named for Pope Silvester, who died on Dec. 31, 335 CE), I will surely be wished a "happy new year" several times today. I don't mind the good wishes, but I often have to stop myself from reminding my co-religionists that 5771 began nearly four months ago, and all of the cleansing and repenting that comes with the passing of the Jewish year has long since faded from my short-term memory.

On the other hand, Judaism has four new years, so defined in the opening Mishnah of tractate Rosh Hashanah: the first of Nisan (the beginning of the cycle of months), the first of Elul (the date upon which the annual cycle of tithing animals begins), the first of Tishri (Rosh Hashanah), and the fifteenth of Shevat (Tu Bishvat, the official birthday of the trees). What would be so bad about reconsidering the teshuvah (repentance) that we performed in Tishri on January 1 as well?

The problem is, of course, that the wider society does not celebrate the new secular year in a way that encourages teshuvah - quite the contrary.

In any case, as Dec. 31 is a Friday, I'll be in synagogue for Shabbat, and schluffing (sleeping) up a storm by the time midnight rolls around.

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