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On Rosh Hashanah, we use the Hebrew greeting “L’Shana Tova” to wish our friends and loved ones a “Happy New Year.” More literally, however, the greeting translates as “to a year of good change.” As a noun, the word “shana” can mean “year,” and as a verb it means “to change.” The two meanings seem especially fitting as the Jewish New Year is a time to begin to make change and start anew.
During the High Holidays, our tradition tells us to reflect upon the past year as a way to be more intentional about the goals and aspirations we’d like to set for the year ahead. As we reflect, we might ask ourselves: Is this the life I truly want to live? If not, how do I make changes to lead a more fulfilling life?
While our first instinct may be to dream big, Judaism teaches us that change starts small, with one tiny seed, like those of the pomegranate. Instead of a single, overarching commandment for how to live a moral life, the Torah offers us 613 smaller ones. For example, be kinder to one more person, give $10 more to tzedakah, or pick up one more piece of litter on your way to work. We can aspire to fulfill these mitzvot, or good deeds, in small ways throughout the day.
Personal transformation begins with one tiny seed of inspiration. Once we plant it, we must nurture it for months, and sometimes years, before visible change occurs. May 5778 be a year in which you find seeds of inspiration to make positive changes for yourself, your family, your community, and your country – no matter how small.