Rosh Ha-Shanah message, September 23, 2001

Rosh Ha-Shanah, like most Jewish holy days -- even Yom Kippur -- is called a ``Yom Tov'', literally a ``good day''. (Thus the traditional Yiddish greeting ``a gut Yontev'' becomes ``a good Good Day...'')

It is hard to think of goodness so soon after meeting a terrifying new face of evil; the traditionally extended greeting ``Shanah Tovah u-Metuka'', ``a year good and sweet'', clashes with the lingering bitterness.

But Rosh Ha-Shanah has never been an occasion for the kind of revelry that attends the first of January, or the Chinese New Year. Yes, this is a time for new year's wishes; but more than that, it is a period of reckoning, of reflection on the previous year so that we can make the coming and future years better.

In that spirit, I wish you and all of us a Shanah Tovah; an easy fast on Yom Kippur to those who practice it; and a G'mar Tov.

--Noam D. Elkies

P.S. This week is also traditionally a time to ask forgiveness for wrongs committed during the previous year. I hope I have not done anything unforgivable, and hope that those offenses I did commit are pardoned. I also apologize for any offense caused by the present spam, Kosher though it is.