This month we have a very special holiday period – the High Holidays. They begin with Rosh Hashanah, the first day of a 10 day period. Rosh Hashanah is also the first day of the Jewish New Year. I have chosen a very special book for the holidays. It is I’m Sorry Grover – A Rosh Hashanah Tale by Tilda Baisley and Ellen Fischer from Shalom Sesame. In this story, Brosh has lost his blue wooly cap and is very, very sad. Cookie Monster says it’s a very hot day for a wooly cap, and asks Brosh if he’s sure he didn’t leave it at home? Brosh is sure. He says, “It’s a beautiful blue, and people are always staring at it, like they wish they had one.” Cookie Monster wants to help Brosh find it because he's a good detective. Brosh then tells Cookie Monster about his visit to see Grover and about all the food he was buying for the holidays – round challah, pomegranates, apples and honey. He continues,”Grover wasn’t even listening, he was looking at my blue cap. Maybe he took my cap.”
They then run into Brosh’s friend, Avigail and asks her if she has seen his blue cap because he thinks someone took it. Avigail runs away hurt that Brosh would even think that she’d take it. They look all over, but no blue hat. Brosh says, “Grover must have it.” Just as he says that he feels a tap on his shoulder. It’s Grover who is holding the blue hat. “Gee, Grover,” says Brosh, “where did you find it?” He explains how he went to the grocery store and it was in the freezer next to the chocolate.”
“Brosh had his cap back but he didn’t look happy.” He felt bad that Cookie Monster had spent so much time helping him and that he had accused Grover. He says to Grover, “I’m sorry Grover. I should have known better. You are my friend.” He even told Grover he could have the cap because it matches his fur. Grover said, “No its perfect for you and wooly caps make blue monsters very itchy.” Now he needed to find Avigail to tell her he was sorry. “He raced down the street, thankful for the High Holidays, thankful for a chance to say, “I’m sorry.” He knew he’d be a better friend in the New Year.
Before we talk about the moral of the story, let’s first talk about the special traditions we enjoy during these holidays. There are special foods: challah that we eat every Friday night when we celebrate Shabbat; and pomegranates – a sweet and tart fruit with 613 seeds. That is the number of commandments in the Torah, the sacred book of the Jewish people that is taken out during the High Holidays as we pray. Also, we eat apples and honey hoping for a sweet New Year. Finally there is the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn that makes a very unusual sound. This very strange sound reminds us it’s a New Year and to awaken our soul so that we repent and spiritually renew ourselves.
The moral of this story is that the High Holidays give us an opportunity to say we are sorry for the things we did wrong to other people. That is a huge lesson to learn and one to do every year. Your mommy wants you to know that she says she’s sorry on Rosh Hashanah as well, to everyone she loves and feels she may not have been good to. That is the point of saying you’re sorry, to make everything right again.
Finally, Rosh Hashanah has to do with the new moon which falls at the beginning or head of the month. You see, Rosh Hashanah occurs 163 days after the first day of Passover, and is usually (but not always) determined by the new moon closest to the autumnal equinox. We celebrate on the New Moon to commemorate the creation of the world. That’s why Rosh Hashanah is a time of spiritual renewal when we pray that we can repent and make our souls new as if the world is being created by God all over again.
We are praying during the High Holidays so that our souls will be healed. Now you can see why saying “You are sorry” is a big part of this process. Also, the moon is very significant to your Mommy because as you know I always call you Moonpie. Why? When you were a baby and asleep on me, I could see your face lit up by the blue light of the moon through the window. It seemed like it was lit up every night.
So, Rosh Hashanah is about spiritual renewal and being able to start over at the beginning of a New Year. It is closely followed by Yom Kippur, the Day Atonement when we don’t eat to rid our body of bad stuff so we may purify and renew ourselves. It’s very deep Elena, but I will tell you about this holiday every year. Just like Grover who wants to be a better friend, in the New Year your Mommy hopes to renew her soul so she may have the spiritual strength to be a good Mommy to you for every year to come.
Shana Tova, my blessed Moonpie,