Some Thoughts And Reflections During The Jewish New Year

“God gave us the gift of life.  We don’t need any more.”–Allan Sherman from The Rape of APE

Another year has passed.  To the Jews, the coming of the harvest during the closest new moon marks the beginning of another year.  It is not surprising that the festival, Rosh Hashanah(literally, the head of the year) is one of the most sacred to the Jews, and, indeed, has implications for all.  The Jewish New Year is more than the turning of the calendar, it is a time to reflect on what has been and to recognize one’s actions.  For me the previous year was truly “laden with happiness and tears”.  I lost my Mom on June 21, one week after her 90th birthday.  But, in the loss, my Dad and I formed a stronger bond.  “We will get through this together”.  Nevertheless, I was forced to face a new emptiness:   For the first time, I went to Oregon without either of my parents, surrounded by family portraits.  It wasn’t easy.  Towards the end of summer, I lost my dear friend, Don Donegan, who had been Chair of the Board of Directors of Medford Education International and had taught me much of what I know about business.  His home was Black Oaks, located on a beautiful stretch of the Rogue River.  I made many a trip to visit him on Pine Gate Way amid a crowd of llamas.  Those visits are over.  However, there were also joys.   I made new friends through the Eagle Point Writer’s Critique Group.  I saw Warm Springs Falls for the first time and walked down the re-named T’lomikh Falls on the Rogue River.  Another year.

What follows are some miscellaneous and scattered thoughts that come from a troubled mind:

The term “religious” fanaticism is a strange one.  When we think about a Lewis Carroll fanatic, do we mean someone that takes joy in ripping up editions of Alice in Wonderland?  Hardly.  Does a Beethoven fanatic spend time recklessly destroying CDs of Beethoven’s symphonies?  Absolutely not.  Yet, the people we often call “religious” fanatics, go about gleefully destroying God’s creations.  Does that make any sense?  Wouldn’t a religious fanatic weep when a new child was born,  kiss the trees,  or bless the stars, rejoicing in God’s creations, not destroying them?  I think so.  My belief is that there is a fanatically-oriented personality that grasps “religion”, which is often a dark mask for the groping hands of power.  By calling such charlatans “religious'” fanatics, we are often elevating criminals to a higher level.  We are, in some sense, giving validation to their nefarious deeds.  We know the power of words.  Human history has choked on them.  “Words are no shoddier than what they peddle.”  Beckett.  But when I witness the current atrocities in the Middle East, I am reminded of lines from Waiting from Godot:

Pozzo:  I am Pozzo!  Pozzo!  Does that name mean nothing to you?  I said does that name mean nothing to you?

Estragon:  I once knew a family called Gozzo.  The mother had “the clap”.

I will finish this post with lines from my dear friend, Sarah Seff Rolfe, taken from her poem, Quasars at Dacca:  “Earth, a tiny bead spinning in space, and still learning.”

May all of you enjoy a year of discovery, peace, understanding, and joy.

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

7 Responses to Some Thoughts And Reflections During The Jewish New Year

  1. berlioz1935 says:

    Love your post. Perhaps “religious fanaticism” is Orwellian? I would go so far in saying, that the Jews are a kind of leavening agent in Western culture.

  2. cardamone5 says:

    Blessings to you as you reflect and look forward. Thank you for the insights into the Jewish New Year. It is always good to broaden one’s understanding. Also, I am sorry for your losses. I lost my mom when I was twenty-one. I miss her every day. You are very articulate. I mean this sincerely as I am struggling to find my writing voice sans a didactic tone that may be reflective of some overall judging tendency. I wish to write as the great storytellers did: engaging, clear, descriptive. It seems elusive at this point, but then again, my own doubt often hinders progress on any endeavor. Too much about me. My best wishes for a wonderful New Year.

    fondly,
    elizabeth

  3. auntyuta says:

    Thank you for this post, Robert. Same as Elizabeth, I am sorry for your losses. You say it is a time to reflect on what has been, and to recognize one’s actions. I like very much the way you write about all of this. Your reflections on “fanatics” are most interesting too. I think you are right, we shouldn’t elevate criminals to a higher level.
    Yes, in the midst of all this gloom we might still have a year of discovery, peace, understanding and joy. May you too continue to be blessed with all of this.
    Best Wishes, Uta

  4. Your kind, thoughtful comments are always appreciated, Uta.

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