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Rosh Hashanah Message from Rabbi Tsaidi

A Rosh Hashanah Message from Elementary Head of School Rabbi Yahel Tsaidi
Dearest YOF Parents,

Among the many minhagim we have on Rosh Hashana, there are some that are more popular and familiar to us while others are less so. Among the lesser known minhagim there is a custom that we refrain from taking a nap on Rosh Hashana in order to ensure we don’t have a sleepy year. Similarly, some do not consume alcohol (aside from kiddush) so as not to have a drunken year. The question posed here is of course of rational nature. Do we really think that taking a nap on Rosh Hashana carries some type of predictory power to my behaviors over the course of the remainder of the year?

Our Rabbis place tremendous emphasis on beginnings. The entire beginning of the Shulchan Aruch, our primary sourcebook of Halacha, focuses in great detail on how we begin our day. What are our first words? What are our first actions? What foot do we place on the ground first and what shoe do we fasten first? There is an apparent hyperfocus on how we begin every element of our day. Chazal teach us that how we begin our day does in fact have great predictive nature to how the rest of our day will transpire. The comparison is made to how a farmer harbors great concern for what the first fruit of his tree will look like. Will the fruit be lush, ripe and plentiful or will it be rotten, tasteless and scarce? Why in fact should the farmer care so much about one fruit on a tree that will produce so many more? Isn’t it just one? We know that the first fruit of a tree is seen as a strong indicator for the rest of the fruits that the tree will produce.

So too, say our Rabbis, imagine what our day will look like when the first word we recite is “Modeh”- Hashem I am filled with feelings of gratitude to You. When our first thoughts are engrossed in hakarat hatov to Hashem, and we follow them by washing our hands and purifying our first actions for the day ahead - imagine what type of day lies ahead. Now juxtapose that with waking up in the morning and our first words are “Oh man!” or “Oof, already?” We often find that those days end up being “oof” days. The choice is ours. We have an opportunity to start our year anew. We need not be overwhelmed with the notion of what we are taking upon ourselves for the year. Let’s focus on how we begin. Let’s elevate our spiritual expectations and focus on our first interactions, our first behaviors, and our initial commitment to Torah u’mitzvoth. May we then be blessed, that with the merit of our collective efforts at the outset, Hashem will carry that blessing and give us the strength to continue our renewed capacities forward.

כתיבה וחתימה טובה.
תזכו לשנים רבות.

Shana tova,
Rabbi Yahel Tsaidi
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