D099_96I wait each year to eat my first pomegranate on the second day of the holiday and say the blessing which marks the first time I eat a fruit in a year

We all know the experience… working on the computer with a few different tasks in our head. We have a number of open windows on the screen; maybe some different computer programs or applications working at the same time… We go from one to the other. And at some point the computer starts slowing down, if we’re lucky. It might also send us strange messages or make mistakes. Occasionally, the computer just freezes and we can’t get it to do anything. What do we do to deal with a problem like that? Well, if we’re lucky, and the computer hasn’t frozen, we close all the windows and the programs, and restart. In the worst case, we have to force a shut down, and then start from scratch.

Does this happen in real life?

it is traditional to eat honey cake, and bread with honey, as a sort of blessing for the new year, that it be a sweet year

A healthy human being is usually so wrapped up in what he wants to do or what he expects, that when encountering little signs from body or mind, he virtually ignores them. It’s not that he can’t see these little hints. It’s that he’s so involved in whatever work he’s doing, that he’s already looking for ‘relevant’ information’. And the signals he’s getting to slow down or re-examine the way he’s going seem not relevant to him. It takes a great sense of relaxation to be able to recognize all that’s in our path, as we walk along a trail in nature. Maybe, if we were looking for a nice photograph, we would see more. But if we were looking for mushrooms, for instance, there would be a lot of things we might ignore.

it is common to eat round challah on the New Year

The Jewish New Year, which will begin this coming Sunday evening (for all our days begin with the evening, followed by night, and then followed by day), is a ‘restart’ celebration for us. We bathe, and put on special holiday clothes. We join our families and friends. There are so many symbols and gestures, that I won’t even try to itemize them. But all of them are intended to remind us that we are experiencing a new beginning. And to do so, we have to put our lives in order, clean up, close open files, return tools to their proper places, pay up old debts, and start our life anew.

D1871_10the squill appears around this time, and reminds us of the season

And since we are aware of our own human failings, the new year holiday isn’t just one day. It is one day followed by another. We pray a special prayer with the start of the holiday. And this is followed by a feast on the first day, on a table usually covered by a white table cloth, on which all kinds of symbolic items are displayed. Many of us wear something white to remind us of the holiness of the day. Luxury and plenty are emphasized. And then the next day we do it all over again. The holiday is actually observed twice. Day after day. Because we know that sometimes we can do a thing without really throwing our heart in it. And that’s not all.

a hand made street poster designed and put up by teenagers in the neighborhood to wish everyone a happy new year

Because we know human failings; because we know that people always put things off… even if we’re sure we’ll do them, we’re allowed 10 days after the new year, to put our lives in order. To search our hearts and search our minds for the sake of peace and closure. We ask forgiveness from our friends and relatives for our offenses. Then comes the day of atonement, in which we stand before god, and say, this is who I am. Such are my affairs. My business (and most private, personal cares) are an open ledger before you. And that day is a day of reckoning… mostly within our own hearts. The purpose of it all, is to appreciate life anew. To really, really live life. It is so easy to get carried away by our occupations, obsessions, and even taking care of business. Just as every seven days, we stop what we’re doing to celebrate the holy sabbath, so once a year, we settle our accounts and deal with all the things that have distracted us.

D2469_18it is common to eat apple dipped in honey on the first day of the new year

My best wishes to all my readers. May the new year bring with it peace and contentment for what we have; and wonder at what we can’t understand. May there be plenty for all, good health, and clear thinking. And most of all, love.


32 responses to “Restart

  1. A very beautiful post, Shimon, and most delicious photos, especially that pomegranate. And the honey cake. I love the way you play with the ‘restart’ metaphor, and the insights you give into your faith. No matter what one believes in the spiritual line, or how one frames it, every human soul can gain from the kind of practices you describe here – the being present, the taking account, the giving of thanks, the gathering in to start afresh. A very happy new year to you and yours.

  2. Happy New Year to you and your family and thanks for the inspiration, Shimon.

  3. Happy New Year to you, Shimon. Hoping it is filled with blessings and love.

  4. L’shanah tovah, Shimon. May your new year be one of gentle peace, sweet surprises, and joy.

  5. Happy New Year Shimon. So nice to have a friend like you who writes so well and shares his life.

  6. Happy New Year Shimon! Shana Tovah!
    I loved this post so much that I sent it to my siblings, my adult children, and all my nieces and nephews. Would you be our rabbi?

  7. I guess this is one of the most special Holy Day of all, dear Shimon! Your words describe a profound honesty toward friends, family, God… asking for forgiveness. How beautiful, we should do it each day of our life, in truth. Recognizing our failures and mistakes, a gesture of humility towards the ones we love and the ones we even don’t know. I wish this could be so profound as you write, but I know that unfortunately, humans are not humble creatures… not all of them.
    May the Jewish New Years bring peace to your beloved and beautiful country THIS is my wish, but the peace is important to reach all the world since there are too many countries in a war right now. And too many innocent sentient beings (humans and non-humans) suffering.
    Shalom… and enjoy the tasty food, too!
    Hugs claudine

  8. L’shana Tova Shimon. Wishing you a sweet and peaceful New Year. x

  9. Happy New Year dear Shimon, to you and to your family and to your country. This is one of your beautiful posts again. Photographs are talking and so nice. Squill fascinated me, they are so beautiful.
    Philosophy in depth of your words, as always hits me. This was great writing.

    Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, Love, nia

  10. A wonderful, reflective post for the new year. I hope I have the correct greeting … G’mar Hatimah Tovah.

  11. Wishing you and yours a new year sweeter than honey. Blessings.

  12. What a great comparison that those using a computer can so easily understand. I think it’s a great idea to start off the new year after closing everything down from the past to have a fresh start. Happy New Year!

  13. Everything looks so delicious, especially the honey cake and Challah. Enjoy every moment as well as the time of reflection….something we could all do with in our lives.

    Shanah Tovah to you, your family and friends and of course to the lovely Nechame. Janet xxx

  14. A beautiful way to start a new Year. There is so little symbolism in our secular life in Australia. Although if one keeps one’s wits about him he can see all the different ethnicities celebrating in their own way. But here there are so many different peoples the celebrations are spread very thinly. I read your post with a certain element of envy.

  15. Not into any sweets, friend Shimon … but since only 36% Ashkenazi me do not really care … I follow the keto life style … which includes egg,. meat, fish, pickled food and the above the ground grown vegetables … but no potatoes, no rice, no pasta, no bread and no fruit … Okay, okay, I sometimes cheat on the beets cuz I love beets … smiles … Happy New Year to you … and have I told you lately that I love you … Always, cat.

  16. It seems that we are not so contemplative in our more Western celebrations of the New Year, at least not in the USA. Thank you for the example and reminder of how we should cherish such a time…and thank you for the blessings, as well. I wish you the same, dear Shimon.

  17. Have a Happy New Year Shimon & enjoy the festivities.
    Best regards.

  18. This beautiful post touched my heart. May you have a new year filled with peace and abundance.

  19. What a beautiful and timely post Shimon. You express my feelings so evocatively. I wish you and your family Shana Tova umetuka, a year of good health, prosperity and nachat.
    לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

  20. What beautiful words you write here Shimon. The first thing I read after Shabbos ended. Wishing you and your family a Shana Tova- all good things in the coming year. K’siva V’Chasima Tovah

  21. This is just lovely, so beautifully written. What grand advice to us all, something I shall bear in mind. A restart, utterly genuinely, is a wonderful thing. Happy New Year to you and yours, may it bring peace, good health and happiness. All my love, always.xxxx

  22. Happy New Year, dear Shimon and Nechama. Many blessings and much love for you both, with hugs of course. xXx

  23. Good health, clear thinking, and love. Thank you, that sounds like a fine year ahead.

  24. Fascinating insights – thank you. May your new year be blessed and fulfilling.

  25. May your new year be blessed.

  26. What beautiful challahs, Shimon! Wishing you and your family a joyful, healthy and creative year ahead. Shana Tova ve metuka.

  27. That’s such a positive outlook, Shimon. Put our lives in order first. Then if the New Year’s resolutions don’t work out, they never do for me, there’s a chance to at least start the year with a clean slate.

  28. Such a warm and loving post, Shimon. More than my birthdays, more than Christmas or Easter, more than any other day of the year, the New Year’s Day is the one that I love.

    It was my grandmother who instilled that love in me. Whether it was part of her faith, or her culture, or only a quirk of personality, she was insistent that at the New Year the house should be clean, the clutter eliminated, the undone chores completed, and the table weighed down with the best food she could produce. We kids joked about it all, calling it “Grandma’s New Year’s toss” — but starting around November, I begin the ritual anew.

    A new year’s exciting, after all — filled with such possibility! I hope your new year is so filled, and that all those good things you wish for us should come back to you a hundred-fold.

  29. Shana Tova to you again, Shimon, and thank you for taking the time to comment on my old blog which indeed got a restart last night after a long slumber. I could have put more effort into it, but as the hours passed by, my body and vision gave out (and oh has WP changed).

    This is a brilliant post of yours. It is something I will reflect on as the sun is now setting in my city on Erev Yom Kippur. I recall the holidays of my youth when we went to shul and I had a large, extended family to gather with and the older generation that is now gone. No one is interested anymore and we are fractured in many ways; I often feel so lost this time of year. G-d willing, a cure will come my way and I can join you in Yerushalayim one day for the holidays to relive all this and get my own restart. I promise to not wear jeans if you recall my comment from years ago!

    Most of all, I am glad to see you blogging again. I feel it is a calling for you and we need your words and wealth of experience (and perhaps your oh-so-familiar stubbornness which I may also possess). You were missed and I’m happy to know I can find your writings, once again, via a simple click on your forever bookmarked blog.

    Leah xoxo

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the post, Leah. I think of you from time to time, and regret that we don’t live on the same block. I have a feeling we would both enjoy a talk now and then. I can imagine it’s no pleasure to correspond when they eyes are a trouble… I still waver about blogging. It’s another complicated business… but that would be for a private conversation… Be well, my friend.

  30. Beautifully put together! Loved the foody pictures ❤️

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