RABBI JEFFREY T. SEGELMAN
Okay. Not really. It’s not Rosh Hashanah. But it is the New Year. 2019. 2019! So many of us will wonder—perhaps remark—“How did we get to 2019?”
In truth, I never heard a person say on the High Holidays, “Wow. 5779. Where has the time gone?”
Rosh Hashanah and New Year’s Day both celebrate the passage of time. In the past, we have said the difference between them lies in the fact that January 1 focuses on the quantity of time (hence our noticing the fact that it’s 2019.) Rosh Hashanah, on the other hand, directs us to mark the quality of time (hence the fact few of us know or even care that it is 5779, as the number of the year makes no difference.)
It is good to have both. We need both. The two experiences compliment each other. James Taylor wrote, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” It is good to accumulate years and to celebrate our age. Surely a toast (or even two) to the new year is in order.
Yet the secret of life is not just enjoying the passage of time. A meaningful life cannot be measured by time alone. Without the introspection of Rosh Hashanah, we risk the possibility we will not use our time to the best of our potential. We can toast time, but without stopping to judge our lives, time will get away from us. You know, the “Where did the years go?”
I once heard a beautiful piece called “Note the Dash.” Someone was observing a gravestone at a cemetery. On the left side was the date of birth. On the right side was the date of death. He turned to his friend and said, “The dates mark the passage of time—the accumulation of years. But note the dash. When all is said and done, it is neither date that matters. The dash represents what happened between those two dates. This person’s true life lies in the dash.”
May 2019 be a year of health and happiness and peace for all of us. May we all be blessed to celebrate the passage of time. And may we all use these first few days and weeks of the year to remember back to our reflections and aspirations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Then, we will be blessed with both many years and a beautiful dash.