The Annual Rosh Hashana Pensivity

by Elana Roth Parker in


Whether I buy into a system of God judging us and writing us down for another year or not, I get weirdly pensive around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It didn't happen as much when I was younger, but now that years feel like they're going by palpably faster, but still full of so much change, it's hard not to feel a little strange. You start remembering the big stuff and little stuff. Some of it's good. Some of it...not so much.

There's a little phrase from the central prayer we say on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, that I've always liked:

ותזכור כל הנשכחות

Loosely translate: "And He'll remember all the forgotten things."

We all know how selective memory is. I feel like I remember too many things I'd like to forget, and keep painful stuff at the forefront far too often. And then I wonder what other people remember about me as well. Do they remember something I've done wrong that I don't? That's a lot of the reason this holiday makes us apologize to the people in our lives, even for things we don't remember doing wrong. But isn't it horrible to think we can so easily forget our misdoings?

We Jews use the metaphor of God writing in books a lot this time of year. There's of course the Book of Life that we're all aiming to get written in, but there's also the Sefer Hazichronot, the Book of Chronicles, as a lot of people translate it, but I prefer the Book of Memories. We all keep things in a log in our heads, and who knows when those will resurface to change how we think about things. 

So this year I'm going to hope for new, good memories to be added to my book. And try to make sure memories of me are the good kind. (We'll see how that goes, but I'm crossing my fingers.)

שנה טובה