Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Six Biblical and Jewish Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Now before people start commenting that the title of this piece is an oxymoron because the very notion of New Year’s on January 1st is not even Jewish, please remember a bit of Jewish teaching. Jewish tradition has recognized the idea of multiple New Year’s celebrations for years – at least since the time of the Mishna, which records four observances of four different annual cycles for four distinct purposes, ranging from political to spiritual to agricultural.
Whatever one thinks about New Year’s, New Year’s celebrations, or the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, they are all beautiful customs when done well and there is Biblical and Jewish wisdom which can help us make good on those important resolutions as we progress through the new year. Here are six tips to help you do so:
First, trust the power of your words. The words we say really can change our realties, and simply declaring that we hope to do things differently this coming year, can make a real difference in our lives. That insight is as old as Genesis itself. Recall the powerful story of things being brought into reality by declaring them e.g. “let there be light, and there was light”.
Second, be modest in your aspirations. You don’t have to fix everything at once, so pick one attainable goal and really pursue it. The Talmud teaches that when we grasp for too much, we end up with nothing at all. But, if we pick a goal to which we can really hold on, we need never let it go.


Third, just do it. Whether it’s getting to the gym, eating healthier, spending less money, or any of the other popular resolutions, just start doing it and let your emotions about what you are doing catch up with your practice. In Hebrew, we call that na’aseh v’nishma, first we do and then we hear. It really works.
Fourth, don’t go it alone. No different from communal worship or major building projects, when it comes to personal growth, there are heights which we can only attain with the support of other like-minded friends. Find a supportive community which will encourage you to keep going even when you want to give up on your resolutions.
Fifth, distinguish the practice from the desired result. Eating healthier and losing weight are two different things. While both may be desirable, you only have complete control over the first. Whether you loose weight or not, eating healthier is valuable in its own right (lishma in rabbinic language) and the same can be said for going to the gym and “looking better”. Focus on the value of the practice, and whatever happens you will feel better and be better.
Sixth, give yourself time off for good behavior. Except for chemical addictions, taking an occasional break from our new practices can actually help us stay committed to them over time. Think of it as a Sabbath. But like Sabbath, if you find that your time off exceeds 1/7th of your time, you need to get back to your resolution, pronto!

  • Your Name

    My mother said i am beautiful,and no matterwhat i believe that i am,lol.My new year’s resolution consists of eating more healthy foods,like more on vegetable diet,weight lose will eventually follow once i got myself into eating vegetables including my snack time,it has to be fruit or vegetable only,(hard to do,huh!)and before one more new year will pass,i need to get my DL.How attainable are these goals?Thanks for the suggestions,rabbi,mine are very simple to other people,but it’s myself who’s making these resolutions,so i think i can do it,lol.

  • Harriet B

    Normally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. This year, I made the resolution to be more politically active.

  • El Marrano

    To learn more about my ancestor’s religion (“conversos”) is my New Year’s goal.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Windows and Doors. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Truths You Can Use Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!   ...

posted 1:28:03pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Apple's "Jew or Not Jew" App -- Should It Be Legal?
An Apple application that let users guess which French politicians or celebrities are Jewish was pulled from France's App Store. but its American equivalent is still available. French activist groups said the "Jew or Not Jew?" app violated ...

posted 1:18:48am Sep. 18, 2011 | read full post »

Is God A Christian?
R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often ...

posted 11:59:56am Sep. 12, 2011 | read full post »

Remembering 9/11 - Part One
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brings up many emotions and presents some very real challenges, among them how to remember the past without being imprisoned by it.  This video, filmed at St. Paul's, the church closest to the World Trade Center ...

posted 2:40:58pm Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days
Below is a copy of the Statement I got from the White House, and while I appreciate the words, I can't help but also ask, "Is this the best we can do?"  United States Mission to the United Nations Office of Press and Public Diplomacy 799 ...

posted 9:04:17am Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.