Opinion Rosh Hashanah 5779

Three Times is a Charm

Dena Schusterman is a founder of Chabad Intown, a Jewish educator and a founding director of both the Intown Jewish Preschool and the Intown Hebrew School.

Dean Schusterman

I could not write a Rosh Hashanah article this year. That was amongst one of my first thoughts on seeing the new year article specifications and deadline email I was privileged to get from this paper.

I am busily writing a book and my writing brain space is limited. Sorry, not sorry.

I only have so many quiet hours in a day to clack away on my laptop. (All of the kids are finally in elementary school and beyond. Happy dance.)

Or so I limited myself to thinking.

The struggle is real; I thought I was placing too much pressure on myself — and 2018, the year of self-care.

Who was I, placing so much value on my contribution and voice, to the diversity of leadership in Jewish Atlanta? It’s the cusp of 5779, so women in leadership — not as compelling. We’ve arrived. Right?

The humble brag, that’s where it’s at.

So, I was going to be OK with not writing an article. Not pushing myself.
Someone else could do it.

I was going to prove to myself, because that’s the only person worth proving anything to, that I didn’t have anyone to impress.

I don’t have to be a slave to my own arbitrary standards.
I could give myself a pass.
Nobody would even notice.
It’s all true.

Then I remembered that this would be my third Rosh Hashanah article for this paper and three is a chazakah, a Jewish standard of inflexibility, or, that more traditionally means strength.

So, if I could just push myself past this year’s cycle, then I would never again have to go through this agonizing self-talk. My navel-gazing and speculation would no longer be necessary.

Because a chazakah – that’s compelling. Smooth sailing.

When it’s steeped in Jewish tradition and longevity, I am lit.

All my self-determination and self-actualization are no match to how woke I am in the face of Jewish values and ancient teachings.

Why? Because the details and nuances of how Judaism is practiced is the essence of who I am as a Jewess.

A chazakah, we are taught, is when you do something three times and then it becomes your assumptive state based on your personal track record or nature. A chazakah even holds weight in Jewish law.

It works retroactively. When you have a certain friend over for Rosh Hashanah dinner for at least three years, it is assumed that is the track record, and it holds weight. Meaning this year, she cannot ditch you for another friend just because they make a better brisket. Your response can be “but we have a chazakah!”

When you are looking ahead at your life and find yourself struggling with a certain piece of it, try doing it three times. It then can be considered part of your nature. I think that is pretty powerful. Think about it: If I light Shabbat candles for three straight weeks in a row; If I let go of being controlling three times. If I use kind words three times; On and on. Judaism now considers all of these practices a part of my nature.

That is an empowering thought.
Empowerment leads to further success.
And on and on.

So, in case you’re still unsure of the facts:
Here I am contributing my New Year article.
My commitment this year, is to literally keep it 100.
Jewish tradition.
That’s my jam.
Make it yours.
Make it a chazakah, so you can live your best life.
Do it Jewish. (I cannot even bring myself to type Jewishy … ugh! There, I did.)

Shana Tova, folks!

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