In a little over a week, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, will be celebrated. While New Year’s celebrations are nice (the Jewish calendar actually has four of them!), Rosh Hashana’s significance is far greater than a mere New Year. It is, in fact known as Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment, and is a time when Jews focus on recognizing God as the King of Kings.
The weeks leading up to Rosh Hashana are meant to be spent reflecting on one’s actions and evaluating whether one has become a sincerely better person. Unfortunately, our 24-hour media-fueled world not only teaches us to focus on that which is going on around us, but also presents a world of tragedies.
As we move into Rosh Hashana (and, in truth, throughout the year), the way in which we perceive the often tragic events in the world colors our ability to connect with and relate to God as the King of the world.
Why did a hurricane flood Vermont? Why is there a drought? Why did any tragedy strike? The answer is…we don’t know. As painful, difficult and unhappy as these situations are, Jewish tradition teaches that God runs the world and therefore there is a reason for everything.
Not knowing is a great challenge for many people, especially in today’s “information age.” In the Western World we are accustomed to being in control, which makes it harder to accept the Bible’s declaration that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deuteronomy 29:28).
Moses makes this statement after describing the violent repercussions that will happen to the Israelites if they cast off the yoke of Torah. However, like every verse in the Torah, it has a deeper meaning as well. The Torah is a guidebook for living, and it contains much wisdom to help us to better understand the world. We must always remember, as the conclusion of the previously cited verse states, that “the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
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