Friday, September 14th, the day you are probably reading this story, falls on the 5th of the month of Tishrei in the Jewish calendar. The significance of this date is that it is in between when Jews celebrated the holiday Rosh Hashanah, which fell on Monday, September 10th this year, and Yom Kippur, September 19th. Rosh Hashanah, translates to “head of the year”, and according to the Jewish (lunar) calendar, is the beginning of the year 5779. The custom of the celebration of Rosh Hashanah as prescribed in the Torah, has been practiced since about 1312 BC. There is another interesting meaning of the word – “shanah” in Hebrew it can be “shinui” – “change” – or “leshanot” – to change. This becomes significant because the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, are the Ten Days of Repentance or Days of Awe. Religious Jews believe that during those days the King-God judges his people, opens His (or Her) book, examines their deeds and decides who will live, who will die, who will have a good life, and who will have one filled with troubles. While it is believed that God makes His decrees on Rosh Hashanah, that decree is sealed in the Book of Life on Yom Kippur. Thus, over these ten days, everyone has an opportunity to repent and change their behavior – to leshanot.
The question I ask myself, – can I really change my behavior? A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions, sincerely believing that the that the next year is going to be different, only to discover that it can be challenging, since all of us are creatures of habits. How can we change them? We can learn from Ben Franklin, who in 1726, at the age of 20, created a system to develop his character. In his autobiography he lists his thirteen virtues, which he practiced one for each year until perfection. You might already know that he was a remarkable human being and accomplished many things during his lifetime (perhaps because he figured out how to change).
Sometimes we need outside stimulus to help us change. For our family this happened on September 4th, 2016- the day when we adopted our best friend, our labradoodle puppy Max. As a result, there were many changes and adjustments in our lives;- one of them was writing and publishing my new photo-story book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”. This book might inspire you to change your life, as well!
One of the purposes of Yom Kippur is the opportunity to repent, and ask for forgiveness; first from people, and then from God. Therefore, I want to use the opportunity to ask for your forgiveness for anything I did (or did not do) to you. Your forgiveness might help to make a favorable impression on God’s decision about me on Yom Kippur and help me to change.
P.S. After a year of living with Max, I noticed that his behavior has changed, after repeated exercises. There are many books on how to help dogs change, but to get results, humans need to change first. These four images show Max while he was changing. To see more Max’s images, check out the Max and Manny page on facebook.
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