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Shanah Tovah—Happy New Year!

Shanah Tovah—Happy New Year!

As the New Year (Rosh HaShanah) approaches, bringing us ever closer to the Day of Judgement (Yom Kippur), I wanted to write a short note of encouragement for all of us to think on as we enter this special and sobering time. 

As I watch time turn around, I’m reminded of a passage in Ecclesiastes which says, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done….” It is a reminder to us that history repeats itself. 
But why is this the case?

In Rabbeinu Bahya, Shemot 32:7, it is speaking of the Israelite’s sin with the golden calf. It says, “Unfortunately, history repeats itself, the children not learning from the mistakes of their parents.” And in Shemot (Exodus) 20:5 it is written, “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations….”
From this we learn that history repeats itself because each generation does not learn from the mistakes of the past generation. God visits the “iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” Is this fair? It seems to imply that children receive punishment for the sins of past generations.
While it is true that each generation deals with the consequences of the choices of the generations before them, it cannot be true that God punishes children for the mistakes and sins of their fathers. Why? Because all throughout scripture it tells us “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers.”(Deuteronomy 24:16. See also, Jeremiah 31:30, Ezekiel 18:20, & 2 Chronicles 25:4)
Is this a contradiction? No, actually it’s a blessing! While no one is put to death or punished for the sins of another, God “commits the punishment” of the fathers on the children in order to give the children an opportunity to change. God gives each generation the prospect of breaking the sins of the fathers. To be the difference makers and world changers in paving roads of freedom from the “old blunders and errors in sin.” This is why “history repeats itself.” It is to give each generation the opportunity to choose differently than their ancestors.
Every Generations Choice
In trying to break the mold and create a new revolution for the future, the world has created a hamster wheel that leads to death. As we enter into the New Year, let us take the opportunity to jump into God’s circle, how He wants the world to turn.
The most well known Psalm of David is Psalm 23. In this Psalm we read the line, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” But in Hebrew, instead of, “paths of righteousness” it says, “Maglei Tzedek – Circles of Righteousness.” Why does it say “circles of righteousness?” The same reason God “visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children.” In one case, He is giving us the opportunity to change the “circling mistakes” of our forefathers. In the other case, He is allowing us to walk in His “circle of righteousness” instead.
We can choose to follow in the path of our fathers…or the path of our Father
As a new year comes around the circle, let us take the opportunity to get off the merry-go-round of the circling mistakes of our ancestors and instead walk in the circle of righteousness that God offers for all who come to Him.

Happy Rosh HaShannah to all!
L’Shannah Tovah Tikatevu!
Samuel

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