One of the last things immigrants leave behind is their eating habit. Being a former “immigrant” in both Nepal and in the United States, good bread has become nothing less than a domestic obsession to me. I bake. Almost no matter where I am on the globe and I love it. Challah is often difficult to get, but […]
A fresh new year. A new start. What’s not to like?
Well, a Jewish New Year is serious business. It is time to reflect. The Jewish New Year is not with fireworks (as New Year is in Denmark), but it is celebrated with the same anticipation as any other new year.
When the Shofar (a ram’s horn) is blown in our synagogue, it marks the time for the congregation to look inwards and repent the sins of the past year. It also marks the beginning of a ten day period, the Days of Awe, where we are encouraged to seek peace with those, whom we might have offended etc.
One of my favorite stories is the story from eastern Europe of a religious man, whom for a long time had expressed his dissatisfaction with the rabbi.
Instead of going directly to the rabbi himself, the man told others of all the things, he was not happy about with the rabbi.
When Rosh Hashanah came, the man felt bad and went to the rabbi for forgiveness. The rabbi was surprisingly calm, when the man told him about the slandering of the rabbi.
“Tell me what I can do to correct my wrongdoings”, the man said.
“Not a problem”, said the rabbi. “Go and buy a pillow, take it to a hill, cut it open, and let all the feathers fly out in the world with the wind”.
“Is that really all you want from me?” the man said, very surprised.
“Yes” said the rabbi. “But come back after a week, and talk to me”, the rabbi answered and walked away.
The man was more than relived. He had felt such embarrassment even to seek the forgiveness. Now he was surprised how easy it was to get the rabbi’s consent to enter a new year “with a clean slate” so to speak. The religious man did what the rabbi said, and looked at the feathers while they blew out in all corners of the world.
A week later the man came back to the rabbi.
“Are we good now? Am I forgiven?” the man asked the rabbi.
“Yes, just one thing” replied the rabbi. “Now go and fetch all the feathers, put them back in the pillow, and bring it back to me”.
“But that’s impossible…”, said the man desperate and unhappy.
“Yes, said the rabbi. “It is with gossip as it is with feathers. Once they are out and all over, it is impossible to take them back”.
I guess most people do it from time to time. Say negative things about others. But it is never too late to ask oneself “when does it ever make me feel good to spread bad words about others?”
Unless you need to warn e.g. your friend about something really dangerous or fatal, damaging another person’s reputation is considered lashon hara, slandous talk. It is in other words a “social murder”” and in short – not okay in any way.
A pomegranate is often used as the symbol of the holiday on greeting cards etc.
To me a pomegranate is a very dear personal memory of a birthday gift, I once got in a kibbutz. Some of the children had picked a small basket of pomegranates and brought it to me, together with the generous offering of giving me access to ride one of the kibbutz’ horses as much as I liked. I couldn’t have been happier.
Apart from the pomegranate, that is really delicious in a salad or as juice, we bake a round Challah, a symbol of the circle of life. Another delicious treat is dipping pieces of apple in honey, wishing each other a sweet “L’shana Tovar” – a happy new year.