Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Year's Blessing

By: Samantha Hulkower

Earlier tonight, I was catching up with my brother in the Old City of Jerusalem before his trip to chutz la'aretz the next morning. Engrossed in our conversation, I felt a shadow fall over me, and looked up to see a Rabbi we both know standing over us.

The Rav looked slightly confused, and perhaps a little distressed. I had met with him last week, at the encouragement of several friends whom he had given particularly helpful advice to. After a while, he steered the conversation over to dating and said to me very pointedly, "Don't have platonic guy friends, it makes things too confusing." Now, a week later, here I was shmoozing - befarhesia - with a guy.

"We're siblings!" "That's my brother!" "We're related!" My brother and I shouted over each other.

Finally, recognizing my brother in the dark plaza, his face lightened, and he changed the topic to ask for help with something else. Once that was done, the Rabbi turned back to me, looked at me deeply and gave me the following blessing, "You should be able to finish up everything you need to this year, so you can start next year with a clean slate." He smiled, wished my brother a safe trip, and was off.

"What does that mean??" I asked my brother. I was so confused, I couldn't unfurrow my brows. "Heck if I know," he answered and changed the topic. We eventually wrapped up our conversation, and I began the walk back up hill, out of the Old City, trying to wrack my brain as to what the Rabbi could have been referring to. What in our conversation last week could have prompted him to make such a statement? For the next 30 mins, I was anxiously turning through ideas, when I realized that I wasn't going to be able to think of anything if I was trying so hard. I decided to meet my roommates at a gathering in our neighborhood, and put the matter aside.

As the night was winding down one of the organizers asked if I wouldn't mind being interviewed about my ideas on Jewish unity.  After answering the expected questions, the interviewer asked me for a blessing.

Without thinking, I opened my mouth, "May you have success with this, and all of your endeavors, may you always have clarity in your work and personal life, and may you finish all of the things you need to this year, so that you can have a fresh start in the new year."

"Great bracha!" the people around us chimed in. The interviewer smiled, "Amen! That was really great, thanks!" As I handed him back the microphone I could see on his face he was really happy with the blessing I gave him. I realized that maybe there wasn't some forgotten sentence or issue from my conversation with the Rabbi last week, perhaps he was just giving me a general blessing - why shouldn't it be any more simple than hoping I can tie up loose ends, and feel like I'm starting 5774 on a new page? Every Rosh Hashanah we all start a new cheshbon - the slate is clean and the possibilities are endless. What a wonderful idea to think that I should be able to not only start new, but finish everything I had begun 11 months ago.

And so, I'd like to share this blessing with you: in less than 3 weeks the whole world starts over again. I sincerely hope that between now and then, you are able to have the clarity to know what you need to do, and the ability to accomplish it, so that when the sun sets on September 4, you feel like you're closing the door on a full, complete year, and have the confidence to take on a new year.