by Bonnie Chernin
Every year at this time, we celebrate and pray for a sweet New Year. As part of our celebration and tradition, we eat pomegranates and apples dipped in honey. We drink sweet wine and wish each other “Shana Tova.” Imagine my surprise when I got a letter in the mail my local Jewish organization wishing me a “Good Difference!”
I learned something new. The Hebrew word “Shana” – which is translated as “year” - also means “difference.” As the letter says: “Since time brings change, and change makes difference, the word for difference and the word for (a year of) time is the same.”
The letter goes on to say to make a real difference in someone else’s life.
No real difference is too little. It can be something easy, such as calling or visiting someone you have not seen in a long time, sending a card to a friend who is not well, or donating to a charity that helps children. It can mean bringing joy to someone else or learning something new and challenging – learning to draw or play an instrument, or teaching a child – anything that brings you personal joy.
Making a difference can often require more effort, such as asking forgiveness of someone you’ve hurt or calling someone you have been avoiding. It can just mean being a better person for others than you were the year before by changing a bad habit that has not served you well. It only takes a little difference to make good difference.
Judaism is a religion of faith and action. Every good act is a mitzvah and with every mitzvah comes greater rewards. Rosh Hashanah is a time of reflection and spiritual renewal. It is a time to remember that we are part of something much greater than ourselves, more than we can ever really comprehend. During times of illness, pain and personal struggles, it is easy to forget what can be possible. Each second we are alive enables us with the ability to discard old judgments, create new thoughts, focus on positive ideas, and share precious gifts. Transform your ideas into action and you will create a new world for yourself and others. Your perception of yourself will grow and change as well.
I had one special thing I wanted to accomplish this year, and in spite of all my personal health struggles, I did it. It was difficult but the most important thing is that I did not let my personal stuff get in my own way.
What is the one special thing – the one difference you want to make and accomplish that means the most to you? Does it keep you up at night? Then it is real. Write it down and keep it somewhere where you will always see your “one special thing” every day. This way you won’t forget. Don’t add to it or dilute it. Start working on the one special thing, and you will experience the joys of Rosh Hashanah every day, all year.
Wishing everyone a Sweet and Blessed Year of Good Difference. G-d bless.