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Inspiring Jewish Quotes for Rosh Hashanah

September 25, 2016 | by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller

Some inspiring Jewish quotes to help guide you in your resolutions for the New Year.

Start Gradually

A sudden transition from one opposite to another is impossible and therefore man, according to his nature, is not capable of abandoning suddenly all to which he was accustomed. – Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Guide for the Perplexed 3:23)

Making major changes in our lives is possible, but Maimonides’ advice reminds us to take it slow, one step at a time. Taking incremental steps makes it more likely that we’ll still with new resolutions and routines.

All beginnings are hard. – Mekhilta Yitro

Remember that while it can be hard to start to change, with effort and practice, things do get easier. Keeping this in mind can help us over the initial discomfort of trying something new.

Asking for Help

If you wish to change your personality, study Torah and implement it in your daily living, and pray to God to remove your undesirable traits. You cannot do it by yourself. – Rabbi Yisroel Friedman (1796-1850)

Change is in our power, but only up to a point. If we truly want to alter ourselves, we need to also pray to the Almighty to give us the strength we need to change.

It’s Never Too Late to Change

As long as the candle is still burning, it is still possible to accomplish and to mend. – Rabbi Yisrael Salanter

One night, Rabbi Salanter was walking home, past the home of a shoemaker. Despite it being very late, he observed the shoemaker was still busy, working by the light of a single candle. “Why are you still working?” Rabbi Salanter asked him. “It is very late and soon the candle will go out.”

The shoemaker replied “As long as the candle is still burning it is still possible to accomplish and to mend shoes.” In his wisdom, Rabbi Salanter realized this message is true for all of us. It’s never too late to change.

Let Go of Past Mistakes

When a person turns himself around, regrets his past and does good, that is such a powerful act that his sins become merits. – Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, known as Resh Lakish in the Talmud, knew a thing or two about overcoming sins: he gave up a career as a bandit to repent, study Torah and eventually become a great scholar. He taught that starting anew can wipe away our past mistakes and regrets.

How old will be you be in seven years if you don’t go to medical school (or fulfill any other ambition)? – Pauline Phillips (“Dear Abby”)

Few of her readers realized that Abigail Van Buren, who penned the long-running “Dear Abby” advice columns from 1956 until her death in 2013, was actually a Jewish woman named Pauline Phillips from Sioux City, Iowa. One of her most famous pieces of advice was given to “Unfulfilled in Philly”, who wrote that he would love to be a doctor, but if he were to go back to college and get his degree, then go to medical school, then do an internship, and finally practice medicine, it would take him seven years and he’d be 43 years old. Dear Abby’s advice was priceless: How old will you be in seven years if you don’t do all those things? It’s better to fulfill our dreams later in life than never.

Keep Trying

Though the righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise. – King Solomon (Proverbs 24:16)

In Jewish thinking, a great person isn’t one who never fails; it’s one who fails and keeps trying. You can only become a truly great person through the crucible of failure and perseverance.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. – Albert Einstein

Success is determined in great part by our ability to keep trying. Even when the task is difficult, persevering can help us succeed in the end.

Click here for more inspiring articles about Rosh Hashanah.

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