ROSH HASHANAH

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Sergio Edelstein

The beginning of the year in the Hebrew calendar was named in a particular way—not a new year, but the head of the year. We interpret this holiday’s name as if the beginning of the year focuses on the essential characteristic of the human being—thinking—and this is precisely the message that Jewish wisdom wishes to convey to us. A thought goes along with freedom, since to be a thinking person, we must be free, not only physically, but especially spiritually.

In the past, the beginning of the year was not in the month of Tishrei, but in the month of Nisan. This may be related to the special meaning of the value of freedom in the universal message of the Jewish people: starting the year, the annual cycle, with the memory of the beginning of our physical freedom and freedom of consciousness, being liberated from slavery. And so, as Nisan starts a critical cycle in the consolidation of the Jewish people, the election of Tishrei as the month that marks the new year starts a cycle that is no less significant. Tishrei begins a cycle where the human being reevaluates his/her actions, thoughts, concerns, challenges and errors. From the beginning of the new cycle in Rosh Hashanah, already at the Ten Days of Repentance, we are given the opportunity to reflect on these concepts, ask for forgiveness from others and improve ourselves. And in the Jewish tradition, apologizing is considered one of the noblest actions, first and foremost, to our friend. According to the Jewish sources, until the moment we receive the forgiveness of a friend, we will not receive forgiveness of another kind.

Our rich history is shaped by actions which define and characterize it. Unfortunately and usually, many of us see it under the prism of the tragedies that the Jewish people have suffered. But we can see it—and must do so, with the prism that brings the Jewish creation together, the intelligent product of constant education, thought and dialogue, progress and tenacity, solidarity and benevolence. All of these characteristics shape our legacy beyond the hardships we suffer.

The Jewish people, constantly and uninterruptedly, are intertwined with cycles of creation—from the thoughts and ideals of Abraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, through Amos and Ezekiel, enriched by the wisdom of the Rambam, Spinoza and Ben Yehuda and the writing of Buber, Bialik and Grossman, to the intelligence and contribution to the progress of humanity of Einstein, Yonat and Levitt. And nowadays, the cycle also includes the entrepreneurs who create and innovate day by day, for the good of all human beings, in technology, science and especially medicine. All of them, and thousands more, enrich our legacy and contribute with solidarity to the entirety of humanity.

The continuous cycle of strengthening our people cannot be stopped in any way due to circumstantial factors that may occur, as a result of unfortunate decisions, thoughts or interests. It is precisely the constant dialogue, the freedom of ideas and respect for others, the mosaic created by discussion and conviction, which, through the chain of generations, united the Jewish people.

May we know in this new cycle to be critical and free, to strengthen and unite, instead of separating and segregating. This is our responsibility!

Chag Sameach!

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