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Head of the year, tail of the year

In a few hours now, it’ll be Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year. May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life, Gentle Readers, for a good year, and a healthy year, and a sweet year. We could use one, couldn’t we?

It’s just beginning to be autumn here in central Connecticut. The trees are mostly green in my leafy town, so the dozen or so that have begun to show fall colors stand out. One on Prospect with a lot of red, one on Arnoldale all orange, and the ones over by the athletic center are all yellow. Mostly, though, it’s green, green, green—but not for long.

The days are getting shorter, too. We’ve passed the equinox; we passed below twelve hours of daylight last week. By Hallowe’en it’ll be down to ten and a half hours or so, and then we’ll be back on standard time and the sun will be down at quarter to five. The workday is still ending in daylight, but not for long.

Perhaps that’s why this Rosh Hashanah feels to YHB more like the winding up of the old year than the opening of the new one. The image that we play with for this holiday of the Book of Life (on Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed) doesn’t usually deal with last year’s volume. We’re getting to the last few words, I imagine, of whatever was written for us this last year. Was it a sweet year? A healthy year?

We do, traditionally, look back on the year, for the purpose of arguing our case before the Heavenly Judge, and we run around apologizing to everybody for whatever harms we may have occasioned, for our sins to each other of omission and commission. We forgive each other, more or less sincerely, hoping to be forgiven ourselves, more or less sincerely. That whole human forgiveness thing has to come first, before Divine forgiveness, both in traditional rabbinic teaching and modern psychological understanding. But that backwards look is largely unconnected to the Book. We don’t submit a subpoena to have the Book admitted in evidence. Perhaps because we feel it wouldn’t on the whole do our cause much good.


Gentle Readers, I do hope you forgive me for my various failings, both as Vardibidian and (as many of you know me) in the Real World.

I suppose this would be a good holiday season to talk about the traditional Mishnaic financial structure, under which it is absolutely forbidden to charge interest on loans, and similarly forbidden to lend money (or lease real property) for longer than seven years. Such rules, even if routinely broken as we can assume them to be, would clearly have prevented the modern world entirely, not just its sudden dissolution this month.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Will you please forgive me for the part I played in your low number of August comments?


Forgiven. Don't do it again. [insert winky emoticon]


I probably will, but you've forgiven me once! Now I've got Carte Blanche!

[insert winky emoticon]


May all the blessings be upon everyone during rosh hashanah. Happy rosh hashanah everybody.

[This appears to be spam, so I've removed the link, but there's no reason Gentle Readers should not have a nice Rosh Hashanah anyway. Thanks, -V.]

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