By Laura Seymour
We have just a short time until the holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins, which means lots of preparations — what to wear, what to make for the important meals and most importantly, what should we be preparing for to create change for the coming year. My computer is filled with things to read and watch and it is beginning to feel like overload — how do we choose where to place our thoughts and our focus?
My advice has always been to read voraciously from all perspectives, yet know where those voices are coming from and then choose what resonates. Just got another list of great questions from Aish.com — “10 Questions to Ask Yourself This Rosh Hashanah” — and I was surprised and challenged. Having just written about talking about G-d, I thought the questions might create more thinking about that important challenge, especially at this time. The surprise is that not until question 9 is G-d even mentioned. Here are the 10 questions:
1. What are your core strengths and talents? How can you use them more productively and meaningfully?
2. Looking back at this past year, for what things are you most grateful?
3. What is one of your greatest weaknesses? How is this holding you back? What practical steps can you take to improve in this area?
4. Do you have a life’s mission statement? Write it out. What are you doing to fulfill that mission? Ask a mentor or friend for feedback.
5. If you only had one year to live, what would you make sure to do? Which are you going to commit to doing this year?
6. If fear was no issue, what goal would you set out to accomplish? What can you do to push through your fear and what steps can you take to start working on accomplishing this goal?
7. What practical steps can you take to lead a healthier life?
8. Looking at the significant relationships you have in your life, which one would benefit most from your additional attention? What can you do to improve that relationship?
9. In what state is your relationship with G-d? What step(s) can you commit to take on to strengthen that relationship?
10. What project or goal, if left undone, will you regret most not having accomplished next Rosh Hashanah?
Each question guides us to look at ourselves with the goal of change and making a difference in the world. There is the advice repeated in many different ways that at the end of our lives, G-d will not ask if we believed in G-d but how we treated other people. The first step is to choose a question or two to think about and then make a plan. One more plan for the holiday — pick a good book to read that will guide your reflections and thoughts for the holiday season and beyond.
Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.