Annual assessment time

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When you look back over the past 12 months, what do you see? It's an important question. The answer may be the key to the work you need to do when Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset Sunday.

You might see a year of joy: wonderful family events, creativity in the workplace and significant moments with friends. You might see a year of personal growth, spiritual highs, intellectual stretching and emotional intimacy. You might be proud of yourself for helping others, connecting with community and treating those around you with respect.

Or you might see a year of stress: irritation with family members, tension in the workplace and a lack of significant friendships. You might see a year of anger, isolation, disappointment, deep sadness and constant criticism. You might feel intellectually stifled, emotionally exhausted and spiritually bored.

Most likely, your life during 5758 was a mixed bag.

But what was the reality of the past year? This is also an important question to ask, especially if a lot of negativity comes up. Was the year really all that bad, or do you just see it that way? In particular, focus on your contribution to the circumstances of your life. How did you react to problems? Did you actively or passively make them better or worse?

Personal assessment is extremely difficult. Most of us secretly prefer to blame others for our misery.

If 5758 wasn't so great, think of the Jewish New Year as the chance to change.

You cannot control everything in your life. But you can choose your reactions. You can see the world through a lens of bitterness and blame. Or you can view it through a lens of compassion and gratitude.

Can you change? Judaism certainly thinks so. Will you choose to change? Judaism certainly hopes so. Shanah Tovah.