According to the Hebrew Lunar Calendar, today’s New Moon marks the civil Jewish New Year. This day of both lunar (month) and solar (year) new beginnings is said to correspond to the 6th day of creation according to the Book of Genesis in the Torah and in the Old Testament Bible. The 6th day of creation, was the day God made man, and so Rosh Hashanah can also be viewed as the birthday celebration of man. To celebrate symbolic sweet foods, such as honey and apples, are eaten to usher in a sweet New Year.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It occurs on the 10th day after Rosh Hashanah. It is said that God prescribes each persons destiny for the coming year based upon what each person does during the ten day period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. During this time, we are asked to review our lives and our behaviors, seek forgiveness for our wrong-doings, and confess any sins. This act of reconciliation between God and man sets the course for the year to come.
We could say that the preparations for the Day of Atonement are an opportunity for us to cleanse our souls, and to reconcile or seek union (yoga) with our Divine Source. One tradition is to visit a moving body of water, such as the ocean, a river, or stream, to pray, self-evaluate, ask forgiveness, and then to cast our sins or wrong-doings into the water to both purify our souls and to assist the process of letting go of the past and any mental clinging. During the last 24-25 hours of this period there is usually fasting and intense prayer – a cleansing of the body and the mind.
Whatever our backgrounds and religious and spiritual beliefs, setting aside a day, a week, or even longer to dedicate to cleansing our bodies, minds, and souls can help us to clean out any old clutter that we cling to, or even clutter that we don’t even know is stashed away in some forgotten corner of our bodies, minds, or souls. Each day and any day we can choose to be our New Year, our day of new beginnings, and set our intentions in thought or on paper (prescribe) for our lives. May we all celebrate life with sweetness, set positive intentions for the year to come, and work towards self-awareness and purification of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of ourselves.
Happy New Year and New Beginnings!