Rosh Hashana, celebrated this Thursday and Friday, is generally described as the “Jewish New Year.” Less known is the fact that Jews believe it to be the Universal New Year. The holiday prayers are constructed around the premise that the creation of Man took place on the first of these two days. Every year the Creation Corporation (God, Founder and CEO) holds a shareholder meeting on the anniversary of this product being introduced. At that time, the life of each human being on the planet is evaluated and a determination is made whether to grant that person another year.
Thus, believers in the Jewish Biblical tradition, even if they arrive there through routes other than Judaism, are advised to use these two days as a time of reflection about the direction of one’s life. Can I make a good case before God that giving me another year of life to work with would be a good investment? Am I pursuing a path which makes me a giver who enhances the world rather than a taker who seeks only to advance my own interests and appetites? Would I use a year of life wisely and well? Is this past year something I am proud of, and would I be confident in offering it as Exhibit A to support my application for another go-round?
I have pointed out here several times in past years how often major decisions about public figures or matters of national and international import are litigated during this season, from Richard Nixon’s resignation speech on August 8, 1974 to Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky speech on August 17, 1998. This year seems no different, with several Damoclean characters disporting themselves under dangling swords or, as W.C. Fields would say, assegais. The states of Egypt and Syria both rank high on that list.
For more provincial folk like me, it is easier to take a more local look at my fellow Miamian, Alex Rodriguez. Harking back two decades to his arrival on the professional baseball field, we recall a lad of unlimited promise. He was good at every aspect of the game, hitting for average and for power, running and fielding. If he could stay healthy, there was no doubt he would reach the highest echelons of the record books.
Actually, we had no doubts but apparently he did harbor some. He thought he needed to supplement the gymnasium with the laboratory. He has admitted to using Performance Enhancing Drugs as early as 2003 and now he again stands accused of studying chemistry between innings. Major League Baseball has condemned him to missing a season and a third, 211 games.
Rodriguez will be turning 40 in July, 2015, just as the suspension ends, making it unlikely he could resume his career. He has appealed and his fate will be determined in a hearing at the end of this month. In the meantime he just goes out and plays every day as if life were proceeding at its normal pace.
Here was a fellow who had everything once and who still has a lot even now. Yet he squandered much of his patrimony on nonsense, leaving his wife for a succession of celebrities. In fact, a researcher created a chart showing how his results as a player suffered each time he began a new dalliance with a Madonna or a Cameron Diaz. Yet after all this noise and with so much on the line, he is still a very young man. Making good choices from this point should still secure for him a fine future.
On Rosh Hashana we are all A-Rod. Maybe we have less glitz but often we do not have less glitch. We start with so much hope, so much possibility, but every bad choice shrinks our footprint. So many years have passed where our production did not match our promise. As we stand before the hearing and ask for another year on the field, we need to reconnect to the adventurer in us, the entrepreneur, the prime mover. If we believe it, we can get God to believe it too…
Put me in, Coach.
I’m ready to play
Look at me
I can be
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