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We should be focused on lifting ourselves up instead of knocking ourselves down.

on Thursday, September 29 2011. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
This week, I received an email from one of the many Jewish organizations who have me on their list. The subject line was the usual Rosh Hashana salutation and well wishes. Indeed, the email began in the familiar fashion – “as the year comes to a close, it is natural for each of us to take stock…” However, as I kept reading I was very surprised. Normally, that sentence would end with a call for introspection, self-reflection and an analysis of where we went wrong, how we failed, and how we can improve.

Instead, in this particular email, the author concludes the sentence by saying, “it is natural for each of us to take stock of our accomplishments.” The message continued by listing a series of achievements and milestones the organization celebrated this past year. At first, I reacted cynically and thought to myself, of course, it is much more convenient to focus on success rather than on failure, but what a distortion of the essence of this time of year.

However, after thinking about it for a moment it occurred to me, that maybe they are on to something. Of course Elul, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are a time to consider our shortcomings and how we can grow, but should that necessarily translate into guilt, negativity and a feeling of failure. Perhaps we would do better to identify our successes, our achievements and with pride, reflect on what went right this past year, so that it can be repeated and expanded to other areas of our lives.

Our main task on Rosh Hashana is to be mamlich Hashem, to coronate God as King. In the process, we should recognize how fortunate and blessed we are, not only to be His loyal servants, but as His children to be princes and princesses, members of the royal family. Indeed, we preface Avinu before Malkeinu in our prayers. We should be focused on lifting ourselves up instead of knocking ourselves down.

Spend time these two days thinking about what went wrong, why did it go wrong and how can we prevent it from going wrong again. But don’t forget to take as much time to focus on what went right and feel pride in the accomplishments and achievements of the past year. I believe giving ourselves positive reinforcement will propel us forward to have an evening greater year ahead.

Shanah Tova,

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