Happy New Year

By Rabbi Moishe Kievman - Chabad Chayil

December 30, 2021

“We pray and believe and trust and hope that G-d will grant us another year. But this year, we will keep to our old resolutions and of course make new resolutions on how to make the world a better place for everyone.” Rabbi Moishe Kievman

Although Jewish People celebrate the actual New Year on Rosh Hashanah, which commemorates the creation of the world, the rest of the world celebrates New Year’s Eve at this time of year. So if people are happy and celebrating, let’s of course be happy and celebrate!

But perhaps the world has a thing or two to learn about how to truly celebrate. After all, another year has passed, and…? In other words, just because another year passed, therefore we drink champagne? What did we do to earn happiness and celebrations? Is it something we get to do, just for existing?

Actually, Jewish People also drink champagne and celebrate on Rosh Hashanah, but it first comes with making a true evaluation of the past year. We must ask ourselves which areas in life we did right and in which areas we need improvement. We then make good resolutions for the coming year. Not just resolutions to exercise and eat more healthily (which we of course should), but also resolutions on how to be there for others. Resolutions to make the world a better place for everyone. And then of course we also celebrate, with faith and trust that G-d will grant us a good year.

So Rosh Hashanah is actually a very serious day. It’s the court case in which the entire year is judged. It’s a day we spend praying and connecting with G-d. It’s just that we got lucky and the judge happens to be someone that loves us dearly. They say the difference between a good lawyer and an excellent lawyer is that a good lawyer knows the law and an excellent lawyer knows the judge! That’s where the celebration comes in. After all, the judge is our father!

But knowing the judge doesn't just get us off the hook, scott free, as that would not say very much good of the judge. But if we can prove that although we were not necessarily so perfect in the past, our intentions are nevertheless pure and we’re serious about upping our game this coming year, knowing the judge can definitely get us a good plea bargain!

So this New Year’s Eve, let’s absolutely drink champagne and celebrate. But not just because. Rather to celebrate how lucky we are that G-d gifted us the past year. Together with the celebration, we pray, believe, trust and hope that G-d will grant us another year. But this year, we will keep to our old resolutions and of course make new resolutions on how to make the world a better place for everyone.

We don't need to get carried away by saving the dolphins in Antarctica, to be a good person and make the world a better place. Let’s start with our own community and within our own families. Let’s start by not being judgmental of others who don’t vote like us. Let’s start by not talking about politics and about things that divide us, at the dinner table. Let’s simply be there for our neighbors with a smile and good energy. You’ll be surprised how contagious a smile can be and what tremendous effect we can make by injecting good energy into the people around us.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all those who celebrate their New Year at this time of year and of course those that celebrate on Rosh Hashanah, a Happy and Healthy Year Filled With Success. Let’s raise our glass to a positive future! This year, we commit to waking up each morning and doing at least one act of goodness and kindness, to make the world a better place for everyone!

P.S. For those who may question a Jewish person mentioning New Years… Rabbi Sholom Hecht, who ran a Jewish Book Store on Brooklyn’s Coney Island Avenue, once had a meeting with The Rebbe on the morning of January 1st, when the Rebbe wished him “Happy New Year.” In response to his surprise, the Rebbe told him that Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev used to tell his congregants “Happy New Year” and it’s based on Chapter 87 in Tehillim where it says that Hashem counts with all people.

May it be a beautiful year for all people!

About the author:
Rabbi Kievman together with his wife are the ambassadors of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, FL. They are the founders of CHAP - an after school program for Jewish Children in Public Schools and direct Chabad Chayil. He’s the rabbi at The Family Shul and can be reached at: (305) 770-1919. Or at: rabbi@ChabadChayil.org