Rosh Hashanah, Resolve to Get Your Finances in Order

Before Rosh Hashanah was the summer of ’69

Now that's a shofar! Image from wikimedia.

Now that's a shofar! Image from wikimedia.

The summer of ’69 is over. Most of you are probably thinking that I am a little behind the times, but my Jewish friends know what I am talking about. Tonight at sundown begins Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.

On the Hebrew calendar, tonight marks the beginning of the year 5770. A common saying on Rosh Hashanah is “L’shana Tova,” which is to wish someone a good year. Similar to New Year’s Day on the Christian calendar, Rosh Hashanah marks a time of introspection and new beginnings.

Get your budget balanced

Even if you’re not Jewish, Rosh Hashanah could be a good opportunity to give yourself a little kick in the pants when it comes to getting your finances in order. I will tell you what my resolution will be: never again will I pay $105 in bank fees when I could have gotten a short term loan for a tiny fraction of that.

It has been quite a while since I overdrew my account, but last week I had an automatic credit card payment go through two days before payday, and it sapped my account completely. Meanwhile, I was out using my debit card, none the wiser. I got charged a $35 overdraft fee three times. All I can do is shake my head. I have a friend who took out a short term loan for $150 and the fee was $17. I could have saved a lot of money if I’d been more careful. But back to Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah begins High Holidays

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish High Holidays, which end with Yom Kippur. During the High Holidays — also known as the Days of Awe or Days of Repentance — Jews are asked to focus on forgiveness and repentance. The Washington Post asked a rabbi to compare Rosh Hashanah to the Christian new year:

“Whereas in Rosh Hashanah, the look is not forward — ‘How can I be a better me?’ — but a look back: ‘How did I not realize my potential this year, and what do I need to do to correct that shortcoming and make sure that I am better able to fulfill the purpose for which I am in this world?’ ” said Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation, a conservative synagogue in Alexandria.

A Rosh Hashanah of a different kind

Rosh Hashanah is observed by taking a day of rest, and usually it is customary to blow the shofar when Rosh Hashanah begins. A shofar is an instrument made from a ram’s horn. However, on this Rosh Hashanah there will be no shofar blown because it is also Friday, which means the Jewish sabbath, Shabbat, begins this evening.

So the High Holidays begin simply by resting and usually blowing a ram’s horn. It’s 10 days from now when things get difficult. On Yom Kippur, the last High Holiday, observers must fast for 25 hours, meaning they have to refrain from both eating and drinking. Also, on Yom Kippur, people are supposed to go without using lotion and perfume, wearing leather shoes, bathing and s-e-x.