Rosh Hashana: What Creation can teach us about New Year’s Resolutions
As we approach Rosh Hashana, let us remember how Hashem created the world.
In Parshat Nitzavim the Torah tells us (Devarim 30:14), “Ki karov eleicha hadavar me’od beficha uvilvavecha la’asoto.” – “The word of Hashem is very close to you. It is in your mouth and your heart, to carry it out.”
In the Gemara, Masechet Eruvin 54a, Rabbi Yitchak asked,
“Eimatai karov eleicha,” – “When is the word of Hashem very close to you?”
The answer that he gives is,
“B’zman shebeficha uvilvavcha lasoto,” – “At a time when it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is to say, you are thinking about the carrying out of the precepts.
Saying and thinking therefore are crucially important as conditions, to pave the way for the carrying out of the mitzvot of Hashem. I would like to suggest that here, Hashem is asking us to emulate the way in which He created the world.
You see, in Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, we are taught,
“B’asarah maamarot nivra haolam,” – “With ten sayings the word was created.” On ten separate occasions Hashem made a declaration: “Let there be light,” “Let us make man,” and so on. So before doing anything, Hashem made a statement.
In addition, He engaged in thought. The pinnacle of the whole process of creation was Shabbat. In Lecha Dodi, which we sing on Friday night, we say: “Sof maaseh bemachashva techila,” – “Hashem had the conclusion of creation (Shabbat) in mind, right from the very beginning.
So we see that Hashem engaged both in speech and in thought before he created this world. Similarly, before we do anything that is special or momentous, we should talk about what we’re going to do. We should make verbal resolutions and in addition we should engage in careful forethought. Bearing in mind what we want the conclusion to be, “Sof maaseh bemachashva techila” is a wonderful way to build a constructive strategy.
For example, when going into a meeting, I must plan in advance what I would like the conclusion of the meeting to be, and as a result, I will be able to engage in conversation leading to that hoped for conclusion.
We should create visions for the future, build strategies and plan all our actions accordingly. And that certainly is how we need to approach the new year as we now move towards Rosh Hashanah.
Like HaKadosh Baruch Hu at the time of Creation, let’s make our resolutions for the new year. In addition, let’s think about where we would like to be in a year’s time and what we want to have achieved and therefore plan all our actions accordingly. Beficha uvilvavcha laasoto: let’s never forget that in addition to what we say and what we think, ‘laasoto’ – it’s ultimately the action that will count most of all.
With our resolutions and with our positive and constructive planning may we indeed lead the way towards a new year of accomplishment, good health, happiness and peace.
Shana tova to you all.
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