On Sunday night, Jewish people will begin celebrating the creation of the world. As the curtain closes on the year 5775, self reflection, repentance and awakening will be prevalent themes for observers of the world's oldest monotheistic religion.
'Rosh Hashanah' marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, and is followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the 'Day of Atonement'. Rosh Hashanah is also referred to as the 'Day of Judgement', and it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die. This is extremely confronting.
I see these High Holy Days as the ultimate juxtaposition.
In one respect, we celebrate the start of a new season - which offers us the potential for a clean slate and a chance to focus on future hopes and dreams. In another respect, we are commanded to look inward and repent for our sins over the past year. I like to think of it as tax time for the soul.
Irrespective of whether you subscribe to a particular faith or not, one can't help but sometimes wonder what life will be like in a year from now? As we turn the next page, will we experience tragedy, joy or a mixture of both?
When it comes down to it, we have such little control over our future. In our daily lives it often feels like we are calling the shots, because we make so many choices. We can choose what we eat, what we wear, what we watch on television, and so forth. What we have no control over however, is time. We don't know how long we will be here and we cannot guarantee that our body will continue to function at its optimum.
So what about sin? Does it play a role in the makeup of our future?
Salvation is often defined as 'saving of the soul from sin' - and this concept has divided major religions around the world for thousands of years. The purpose of this piece is not to compare, but rather to share how people in my faith approach this.
In Judaism we look to the Torah for guidance, and it explains that redemption is possible through repentance (Teshuvah), prayer (Tefillah) and charity (Tzedakah). Many Jewish people around the world will be focusing on these acts in the upcoming days.
Some people reading this will undoubtedly question whether these three acts can actually determine someone's fate - I'm not here to try and sell you the truth.
What I can say with confidence however, is that these acts can only make our world richer and more harmonious. Showing remorse, being thankful for what we have and helping others who are less fortunate, will certainly make the earth more pleasant - and if it does indeed please our creator then that is good enough for me.
Imperfections are the things that make us human beings and messing up from time to time is inevitable. The comforting reality is that by taking accountability and addressing our flaws, we can obtain an awareness that awakens us from our slumber.
For all observing this Sunday night, here's wishing you a 'Shana Tova' - A happy, healthy new year.
For everyone else, may the dawning of a new season bring you peace and joy.