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Student perspectives

New Beginnings

 

        Tonight I would like to talk about new beginnings - three new beginnings to be exact. The first one comes from this week’s Torah portion Beshalach. This portion is when the Israelites are finally allowed to leave Egypt; G-d’s pillar of fire prevents the Egyptians from stopping the Israelites, and then He performs the miracle of splitting the Red Sea. Miriam leads the women out with timbrels, a tambourine-like instrument, to praise G-d and celebrate through dance. This positive attitude marks the transition from bondage to liberty, which in my opinion signifies the first moment when the Israelites are truly free. 

            As many of you know, Tu B’shvat is tonight! This holiday commemorates the New Year for the trees. While Tu B’shvat is considered a minor holiday, it is no less important than any other holiday. Not only do I love it because I will take any excuse to relax outside and eat dried fruit, but I love it because it points out that people are not the only thing of value on this earth. Tu B’shvat is a time to honor nature and focus on the importance of something other than just oneself. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Amidah that we say how many times a year all provide the opportunity for introspection, but Tu B’shvat is a time to look outside of oneself and appreciate the new beginnings around you.

            The third new beginning is very easy to see. A new year, a new semester, and I do not know about y’all, but all of my commitments just started back up these last few days. We should all take the time to remember to mark transitions and new beginnings, something I personally do not do nearly enough.

            The first new beginning - Miriam and the women dancing - shows us what a difference a positive attitude can make, truly emphasizing the new change. The second new beginning demonstrates the importance of looking beyond oneself. Especially in a competitive academic environment, it is too easy to become completely wrapped up in your own world: school, homework, friends, internships, sleeping… and whatever other obligations and commitments we all have. Sometimes we need to take a step back and remind ourselves that we are a part of a bigger picture, not the whole image.

            As I thought about what I wanted to say tonight, those points jumped out at me as something I should try to improve in my life, and I wanted to share them with you, too. Shabbat shalom. 

Sarah is pictured on the left.

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