Each January we hear the siren call of complete transformation in the new year. From setting resolutions to opening a new calendar with no smudges in it yet, we yearn to start fresh. We hope that this is the year we establish new habits, travel to new places, even look in the mirror and see a better version of ourselves. This January we’re approaching the new year with a different attitude:
New Year, Same You!
This counter-approach declares that each of us is intrinsically enough. Of course, we may want to work a little harder, learn from our experiences and build upon our accomplishments, but we certainly don’t need a complete overhaul. No crash diets, no excruciating exercise regimen, and definitely no deep changes to our core selves. Instead, we’re reminded that we are whole just as we are, with perhaps just a little dust to shake off in 2019.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson once put this concept in a beautiful and simple way. When an esteemed follower compared a Jew who had lost his connection to his faith to a Torah scroll, in which the letters can sometimes fade and need to be filled in again with ink to return to their optimal glory, the Rebbe gently corrected him. “A Jew is a Torah scroll, but not a written one,” he said. “Rather, like the Ten Commandments, the script is engraved. You do not have to ‘rewrite’ a Jew; all you have to do is help him brush away the dust and grime of his environmental influences which have temporarily and superficially covered up his true self.”
In a culture that profits economically and socially from encouraging a complete makeover of the mind and body in the new year, it is an act of resistance and spiritual self-care to decline the invitation. Just as Rabbi Schneerson explained, our souls and hearts are whole and perfect, engraved and inscribed with holy words and strong resolve. Sometimes a little dust, or some messaging that does not belong, can get caught in the grooves. All we need to do is gently brush away what is not essentially us.
In this new year, we can resolve to take the time to shake off any dust that we have collected since last January. We can examine what messages we may have internalized that are not connected to our true selves. What “musts” and “shoulds” do we buy into that do not serve us? How can we spend our time in ways that feed our hearts and souls?
We here at Kolbo are so excited to partner with you in whatever journeys lie ahead this year. Whether you’re looking to create or revitalize traditions–from lifecycle events to the next book you’ll debate after Shabbat dinner–we’re here to provide a Jewish space where you can seek, question, and learn.
Happy New Year!
Sara Bellin is a non-profit program manager and freelance writer in the Boston area. By day she engages with contemporary challenges in Jewish education, and then pulls up her chair again at home to write articles relating to Jewish lifestyle, identity and values. Bellin lives in Brookline with her husband and two year old son.