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Home > Holidays > Story

Rosh Hashanah resolution: No more pack rat

Staff Writer
September 12, 2000

There's something special about the end of summer. The humid haze burns off as the temperature drops. The garden bears its heaviest crop, and the harvest is soon over. The back to school rush consumes one's thoughts. There's a pending urgency to get things done, to have one's life ready for the winter about to come.

It's usually about the first Shabbat in September, as I kindle the candles at a noticeably earlier hour, that it all makes sense, again, as if for the first time.

The Jewish calendar is one where endings are beginnings. As the day ends with sunset, a new one begins. We aren't to jump haphazardly into a new day upon waking, but rather to take our time, greet the new day rested and refreshed.

Rosh Hashanah has always been special. It's not just the end of a year and the beginning of another. It is the doorway to a season of reflection and affirmation. Our prayers that "everyone will come to serve You [God] and bless Your glorious Name" are heartfelt.

The shofar, a ram's horn that recalls the time of the sacrificial covenant by Abraham, summons Jews to have a sacrificial devotion to God and our communities. The shofar also calls us to examine our actions and repent for all we have done, or failed to do, that has impacted others or ourselves in a negative way.

The required penitence in scrutinizing our behavior, making amends and resolving to improve, fill us with a confidence that everything can be a blessing if we allow it to be. After all, "prayer, teshuva (repentance) and tzedakah (charity) can avert the severe decree," as stated in the machzor, the High Holiday prayer book.

I've spared nothing in my effort to prepare for Rosh Hashanah this year. After some major lifestyle changes this past year, I lost quite a bit of weight. I was ready to similarly reduce the girth of my closets, as well as drastically de-clutter my space. There was no better time than now to accomplish what was necessary as it would bring in the new year with reflective peace.

I called a couple of unsuspecting friends and convinced them to join my little venture before they realized what it would entail. Soon, "fat clothes" of every shape and size were thrown into boxes and set by the door. All of the "whoosh" boxes, filled with extra stuff left over from moves or sweeping cleans of my house were extracted from their hiding places in the closets and carefully examined, one piece at a time.

Filing cabinets of documents from years past that I was hanging onto for whoknowswhatreason were purged and reordered. Boxes of unorganized photos were pulled out and placed into albums, finally!

My life for the past ten years was carefully reviewed and examined, piece by piece, with the reflective wisdom gained from the lessons learned from the experiences. Joyous memories, as well as painful ones, were rehashed and gently laid to rest. It was an overwhelming task, but it eventually got done. I'm not sure if the people who helped me will ever physically recover, but we are still friends. They assure me, however, that I will help them do the same with each of their houses. Joy.

I'm happy to report that ten carloads of clothing, household and kitchen accessories, three bicycles and an unused waterbed were happily driven to a local women's shelter. I'm quite certain that the more than one hundred pairs of socks that I had acquired for some unknown reason, are most happy to be walking around on someone's feet, rather than be stuffed in a basket woefully waiting to be paired with their mates.

The seemingly endless stray hair-ties are all collected and ready for use. The ubiquitous pennies and dollar bills that seemed to sprout from every box we touched, have been gathered and deposited into my son's tzedakah box.

I'm ready for the new year as I have never been in the past. My life, literally, is in order. There are no cobwebs or hidden boxes of whoosh somewhere in a closet, there are no lessons unexamined, there is no chaos in my living room or around the corner and there are no memories left unresolved.

There is only peace, and calm and resolve to live every day of the new year in as orderly a fashion as my new thin clothes hang in my closet. What a way to live!

L'Shana Tova!'s Guide to Rosh Hashanah

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