Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The Jewish holidays have a way of putting all events in a positive light. Even if a person is spending them alone, the holidays hold happiness and abundance within their mere essence. The prayers of each holiday are so uplifting, full of both light and direction. Even if one is unable to read the prayers on their own, they can go to any shul and listen to the beautiful prayers as they are said aloud. If one is not well enough to leave their home, they can have someone come to them and blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, build them a hut on Sukkot, or dance with them in their home on Simchat Torah while holding the holy bible. On Chanukah, they can light candles at home, and on Purim, they can have someone come read them the megillah. On Passover, they can eat matzah. On Shavuot, they can imagine themselves receiving the Torah by Mount Sinai and then eat a nice piece of cheesecake.

The point is that the holidays hold our attention even if we are not at our best. In other religions, being alone on a holiday typically leaves people sad and depressed.

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We are approaching the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. The start of a new year in Judaism isn’t about a big party or a great bargain. It’s about seeking forgiveness and a chance to start over. Every year we try to better ourselves and go beyond our comfort zone, reaching for the stars no matter the difficulty we face. Our bad deeds are wiped away, and we are given a chance to live the right way.

Hashem, our father, is so merciful and He listens to us at all times. No matter how often we fall, He is always there when we want to get up and try again. G-d looks down upon His creations with love and compassion, so why do we struggle with looking at others as well as ourselves in a good light? We must try to emulate G-d’s ways.

So often we judge each other. If someone asks for tzedakah, we wonder if they will use the money for something good or for cigarettes. If someone is raising money for a simcha, we think that our money would be better spent in other places. If someone needs 50 dollars to help pay their rent, we assume that our need is greater. The list goes on.

We are just days away from Rosh Hashanah. We pray and plead with the Almighty to grant us a good year. Do we want Hashem to start looking closely at all of our deeds or do we want Hashem to judge us mercifully? If we want G-d to look at us with mercy, we must have mercy on those around us, whether it’s a stranger on the street or a family member.

Even in one’s own family, not always is there understanding and generosity among one another. We are so quick to judge and decide what is the right or wrong thing to do, regardless of the person in question.

How do we know that all of our actions are just and correct in the eyes of Hashem? Perhaps we are off with our conclusions and assumptions. We must be careful as to what we think and, even more so, what we do.

Usually when we let our personal feelings get in the way, our decisions are clouded with self-pride. We often fail to both sympathize and empathize with the person in front of us. Let us not assume that we understand the motive behind every action of those around us. Let us not play G-d and be judges when we were not asked to do so. Let us be kind and gracious.

If someone is trying to raise money, any amount will be accepted with open arms. Let us open our hand to others so that G-d will open his hand to us with mercy and kindness. It’s all the little actions that we do daily that add up when it comes to Rosh Hashanah.

Most people don’t do major crimes that deserve drastic punishment, but we are all guilty and each of us have to ask for forgiveness on Rosh Hashanah. Everyone feels that they do everything they can to help someone out. We give donations to the shul and we are nice to the rabbi at the yeshiva, but sometimes the help that is needed is right in our own families or homes, and we don’t even realize. I think that charity begins in the home. We must check and see how we can do good deeds for the ones closest to us. With all that awareness and kindness, we will surely enter the new year with mercy from above and be granted a wonderful, healthy, and happy year.

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