By Yered Viders
What’s “new” and why is it so important? So focal that Rosh Chodesh is the very first mitzvah given the Jewish nation? So critical that Hashem could have “cut-and-paste” so-to-speak the opening words of the Torah and in place of “In the beginning,” begun the Eternal Word of Emes with “This month (i.e., Nisan) shall be for you the head of all the month”? Of such magnitude that it ushers in the two-week crescendo to leil Seder and Chag Ha’Pesach? Who ‘knew’ what’s the big deal about ‘new’?
One answer lie in the undeniable truth that the excitement of virtually every experience in life wanes after time. Time, as the Vilan Gaon, put it, has a decaying effect. Relationships cool off. Vacation spots become old hat. Part and parcel of our human hard-wiring is the magnetic draw to newness. And while there is much to be said for being satisfied “with our lot,” the Torah wants us to seek out and incorporate newness (“chiddush”) into our lives. For newness has the capacity to propel us forward. To infuse us with enthusiasm. To galvanize our ambitions. To prevent complacency with what was. To stave off despair that it will always be so.
No, my friends, what the world needs more of (in addition to Boston parking spaces) is inspiration. And while our surroundings and stimuli are constantly providing opportunities for inspiration – be it Beethoven’s Fifth for the ears, a dazzling sunset to the eyes or some friend, mentor, book or locale that can jettison our senses and shake us out of the quiet, lonely and desperate path towards ordinariness. For very, very few (if any) find simcha there.
No says the Torah! What will propel you forward lies within! You are charged with the awesome task of becoming the world’s greatest expert in (of all things) – yourself. Know what makes you tick. Know what makes you ticked off. And, above all, know what inspires. For when you can infuse yourself with enthusiasm. When your get-up-and-go isn’t tied to outside sources (who may very well have gone-up-and-left) then you can tap into deep well-springs of simcha. You can strike that oh-so-delicate balance between contentment and yearning. You can draw on the old and make it new – everything – your relationships (namely with Hashem, with yourself and with your loved ones), your learning, your davening, your profession. For the one with chiddush, with freshness, there lies simcha and for the one with simcha life is one giant, beautiful world for me and you to create.
May we always share good “news”