Rabbi Ottenstein Shares Insights for The New Year
OpinionView From Up North

Rabbi Ottenstein Shares Insights for The New Year

Rabbi Jordan Ottenstein reminds us to embrace every day regardless of challenges we may face.

Rabbi Jordan Ottenstein

Now that we are nearing the end of December and the secular year, I find myself hearing over and over again some version of the sentiment that many of us are thankful that 2017 is almost over.

I seem to recall hearing the same thing a year ago as 2016 was coming to a close.

It is understandable why, at the end of each year, people seem to rejoice in its closing. As we look back on the past year, we find a number of things to be disappointed or worried about: the political divide in this country, widening gaps between many sections of the Diaspora community and the state of Israel, the rising wave of anti-Semitism and racism, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, just to name a few.

Many of us also have personal reasons to want this year to end. We may have received bad news or experienced the loss of a loved one.

With the upcoming year, there is always a hope for the future, a hope for new dreams and visions, and a hope that the new year will be better than the one we are leaving.

While I don’t want to put a damper on the festivities of New Year’s Eve, unless we change our viewpoint, 2018 will include many of the same issues as 2017. The new year will still have the divisions, the fear, the animosity and the anxiety.

However, if we turn to our sacred texts and to our sacred tradition, we have the tools to view each new day, not only each new year, as a gift from G-d, something to be treasured. We read in the Book of Psalms, “Zeh hayom asah HaShem, nagilah v’nism’cha vo.” This is the day G-d has made; let us be glad and rejoice upon it (Psalms 118:24).

Those seven simple Hebrew words can be our new mantra, our new way of looking at the world. Each day is a gift; each day is valuable. When we can change our viewpoint to understand and acknowledge that each day is one made by G-d, we can truly value each day.

There will still be challenges, there will still be struggles, and there will still be moments of grief. But rather than look at the year as a whole, with 365 days of potential for good and bad, we should remember that, as Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin taught us through the voice of a young red-headed orphan, “the sun will come out tomorrow,” and we should be thankful when it happens.

As 2017 comes to a close, I wish all of you a happy new year and, more important, a happy today and happy tomorrow.

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