What the Jewish New Year Can Teach Us About Honoring Our Promises, Ourselves and Each Other

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Whether You’re Jewish or Not, this Holiday Offers a Wonderful Opportunity to Examine the Promises and Commitments We’ve Made, Including the Unfulfilled Ones that May Be Energy Leaks In our Lives

Have you ever made a promise that sounded like any of the following:

  • “I’ll call you in a few days.”
  • “I can finish that project by next week.”
  • “I’ll meet you this weekend for lunch.”
  • “I’ll pay you back tomorrow.”

Many people struggle with keeping promises and agreements like the ones above, and others we make in our daily lives.

It’s not that we don’t want to keep our word, often we just forget, or life gets in the way!

As a result, we can end up with a string of broken promises if we’re not mindful.

Over the past 40 years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of studying the principles and practices of many great religions, ancient philosophies, modern science and psychology.

And while changing our minds from time to time when circumstances prevent us from keeping a promise is just part of being flexible in life, I’ve found that one holiday in particular offers us a unique opportunity to focus on following through on our commitments.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance.

It’s a time for us to pause and examine the agreements and contracts you’ve made with yourself and others.

Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year

Words flow around us all day long and sometimes are taken lightly. Promises, commitments and agreements can be made easily, but keeping them is often another matter.

Adults might make promises to children about what they can have in the future, or children make may promises to adults about behaving better, for example.

Then there are legal contracts, promises to pay money, agreements to spend time, and perhaps commitments to live into your marriage in a particular way.

When you keep a promise, you are communicating to the other person that you value him or her. This can result in building trust in your relationships.

More importantly, by keeping a promise, you are telling yourself that you value your own word. Keeping a promise to yourself is the same as respecting yourself and eventually, promises kept can increase your self-esteem, confidence and heighten your experience of life.

Unfulfilled promises, agreements and commitments can create leaks of energy in your life

Although your conscious mind may not remember all of the major and minor agreements you’ve made in the past, your subconscious mind most certainly does.

Rosh Hashanah Lesson

For example: Maybe you’ve told yourself over and over again you’re going to clean the garage. Every time you pass the door to the garage or walk in the garage, you’re reminded that you haven’t cleaned it out yet.

Now, even when you think about cleaning the garage, you may feel energy draining out of you.

This feeling of decreased energy, vitality and aliveness can begin to build because your subconscious mind is busy trying to get you to fulfill on your incomplete promise.

By spending time reflecting on and renegotiating the promises, agreements and commitments you’ve made but not kept, you can increase your energy, leading to more productivity, effectiveness and well-being.

Yom Kippur is the day of the great atonement, forgiveness and a fresh, new start

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Judaism and the last day of Rosh Hashanah. It’s also known as the day of atonement, or, as I like to say, the day of at-one-ment.

Yom Kippur Atonement

When you deliberately set aside ten days to self reflect, you’ll most likely feel very at peace with yourself. For all the places you’ve let yourself down or others down, you can forgive yourself.

You’ve done your best job during those ten days, and now you can give yourself a fresh start and be ready for a new year to grow into who you’d love to be.

Give yourself a new opportunity to lean into being the person you’ve wanted to be in your life over the past year

Rosh Hashanah is an ancient tradition that anyone can practice and benefit from, whether you’re Jewish or not.

Rosh Hashanah Happy Jewish New Year

As Rosh Hashanah approaches and you start to make your Jewish New Year’s resolutions, you can begin by thinking about promises you can make to yourself that will propel you toward your goals and dreams.

To start, I’d recommend making small promises that you know you can accomplish in a short amount of time. When you follow through on smaller promises, you can develop a pattern of consistency that will enable you to follow through on bigger promises.

Keeping your promises to yourself can empower you to change and grow. It can also increase your self-esteem, build your character and prove to yourself that what you say and do is valuable and worthy of creating the life you’d love living.

And now, here’s a question for you in honor of Rosh Hashanah…

Is there any area of your life where you find it relatively easy to make promises and more challenging to keep them?

Exploring this question will help to clarify what’s most important to you in life so you can live and work according to your deepest values. I invite you to leave your reflections in the comments below.

Whatever our experiences may be in life, by sharing them we can help others grow, and we can expand and evolve ourselves by hearing from others, too.

So go ahead and leave a comment below, and join the conversation!

Categories: Inspiration, Mindset

Comments (22)

  • Mertella castella

    Thanks for your encouraging words

  • Hugo Hernán

    Totally cierto!. This is the laws of the universe. Remembering the law of correspondence.

  • Lee Denton

    Very happy I opened your email!! Your article is terrific and I’m grateful. Have often wondered what all the Jewish holidays are about. Some people don’t know and some people aren’t sharing. My offenses with being latee are more about me not paying attention, fatigue and failure to process, forgetfulness due to whatever reason,etc. Reflecting for 10 days may reveal more and truth. Looking forward to forgiving myself and a fresh start!!

  • As a Jewish Israeli woman, I am grateful for this article and for the way you’ve used it to bring light to the world.
    Thank you.

  • birendra singh

    thanks for the article I am not a jew but a hindu but keeping promise should be for everyone regardless of cast sex religion or anything keeping promise is being honorable trustworthy and bringing joy in your life I try to keep my word or promise be it small or big if I tell someone that I will meet him/her at certain place and a certain time I ensure I be there on the dot but these days this is lacking and often destroy the fragment of the society ….. so yes we should keep our words and promise but sadly for me I am too lazy and I don’t tend to keep my own promise to myself due to my laziness I am write a book an auto biography but because of my just laziness I am not doing it so I should stop being lazy …..trying

  • I’d like to know more,about you!
    Assaf Rosenkrantz

  • Mary, Thanks for the well timed reminder to honor our own process and commitments to ourselves and others. Rose

  • Thank you Mary!
    I have been out of alignment in a couple of areas for myself and am very grateful for your well timed reminder for reelection and at a more intense level! Rose

  • My main weakness is procrastination with matters I don’t like. Thank you for this article. I will try the 10 days approach and work out from there. I forgive myself for my weakness and for letting it grow. Thank you.

  • Mary, you are such an inspiration! I grew up Jewish but not strongly religious, maybe spiritual. Now I am a serious student of A Course In Miracles, and have developed my spirituality in a beautiful way. Understand all the wisdom traditions better,and very proud of my heritage especially now! Your approach towards this season can be so helpful. Since my husband died eight years ago I have been taking baby steps and growing gradually. Now I practice gratitude,forgiveness and atonement daily. I think The high holidays will be even more meaningful to me this year because of your video and words. Namaste. ❤️✨✌️
    Loved the video, I hear you!

  • Mary I enjoy reading and listening to you talk . Do you have a web site that for women who are in a relationship that is mentel n emotional abuse need help to cope with this person I feel most of the time like crying .

  • Wow! This has come to me at the perfect time. I just moved away from a draining adult child. I’ve been neglecting myself, health and life. I need to focus on my goals, weight, and future. Thanks for helping me to get it together.

  • Joan McManus

    Thank you, Mary, for putting the value of this Jewish tradition in front of all of us to use its universal application! beautifully done!
    With love –

  • Ah, yes Mary! I too have a problem with procrastination! Or maybe I’m just lazy!

  • I enjoyed this article. I am catholic but I respect most religions by far. Jewish is one. .. I try my best to make goals and keep them . I help my son who is single but a adult to, as we say , let’s get things done. Accomplishing makes you whole and feeling better . This is what I preach. Sometimes I best myself up mentally when I faulter Behind. We need a support team. And sometimes life gets in the way. But I try to think ahead put things on calendar etc and I enjoy to help others as well. This is a derp subject. Glad I took the time to read

  • Thank you for writing this . Am currently in France but a UK national . 10 days of reflection .

  • Donna Bayer

    I struggle with anxiety and fear of making a wrong decision. It paralyzes me. I’ve never thought of myself as a lazy person, but by not taking any action, I feel like I am.

  • Broken promises that someone else that made to you

  • Kreshayla Boykin

    This is an excellent article amd I feel that you were talking to me. My greatest weakness is laziness and procrastination. So I’m forgiving myself for self negligence and promising to start setting goals with deadlines and completing them. Thank you for the time that you put into this article.

    • I also have a big problem with procrastination and this article has opened my eyes, thank you!!

    • I am a senior journalist, writer and a dreamer. I think my dream has come true. I am based in port city Karachi, the financial hub of a beautiful country called Pakistan. The second edition of my first book, “Khawab Lay Lo Khawab’ (Take away my dreams) based on my memoirs will be printed in three weeks. Another book, “Muft Lay Lo khawab” (Take Away my Dreams for free,) also based on my memoirs will be published in three-four months. This time I hope to make some savings. I am also working on my hypothesis, “Relationship betwwen nature and Homosapiens” and hope to write a 100-pages book, based on my hypothesis.

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