Here’s what I remember from Jewish Day School: Esrei Yamim is the time in which God chooses who will live and who will die in the upcoming year – God opens the book on Rosh Hashana, and for the next ten days scribes the names of who will live. On Yom Kippur, the last of the ten days, God closes the book to seal the deal. That’s why we’re so desperate to pray during those last few hours before the sun goes down on Yom Kippur. We get down on our knees and beg God for forgiveness.
Esrei Yamim has always been a time for me to think about the previous year – my accomplishments, successes, failures; the big questions I’ve pondered; the relationships I’ve built, maintained and broken; the holidays I’ve celebrated with friends and family; the states and countries I’ve visited; the milestones – and to consider goals for the upcoming year – identify my needs for improvement; think of where I have room to grow; figure out how I can be a better person than I was last year; apologize to people I’ve hurt; write a list of my top ten most offensive sins.
I make resolutions during secular New Year too, but always draw a line between the types of resolutions I make on Jan 1 and Rosh Hashana. My resolutions for the secular New Year are typically material resolutions: I want to stop using the word “like” in every other word of my speech. I try to keep my resolutions for Rosh Hashana on a more spiritual plane: I want to rely more on my gut than my brain.
I like the cleanse because it forces me to slow down and think about what I put into my body, to appreciate food that isn’t tainted by chemicals and synthetic additives, to taste the goodness of purity. Eating on the cleanse makes me feel clean.
For more inspiration on food and thought, visit the blog I’m co-writing with my mom: www.crosscounterxchange.com.