As a Jew, I have absolutely no problems with “resolutions” at the beginning of January each year. As a matter of fact, I’m very much in favor of resolutions … provided these resolutions are in keeping with resolutions that I hold to be the sine qua non of our existence as individuals in society.
Each year, I find abhorrent the views some Jews hold about Israel, the synagogue, and Judaism in general. Each year I come to realize that typically the biggest antagonists against Israel, the synagogue and Judaism are those who are most ignorant. Whenever a view about Israel or the synagogue or Judaism in general is formed by one incident or one experience or news reports, there is good reason to believe that view is both biased and lacking in information. Among the various definitions of the word resolution, there is one that tells us that resolution is the ability to capture and produce more details of any given image. Even though such a definition tends to be optical in nature, most, if not all of us go through life harboring distorted images. Only when resolution exists do we gain a clearer picture.
Imagine if you will what a difference resolution would make in the lives of American Jews who walk around with clouded vision as far as their religious homeland and their place of worship are concerned.
At the other end of the spectrum are those Jews for whom Judaism, the synagogue, and especially Israel, evoke responses that are totally visceral in nature. As a young teenager, I recall Mrs. Faiman from across the street telling my mother how she would plead with her husband not to sit in front of the television and follow what was transpiring at the United Nations during the early part of June 1967, as delegates from around the world would meet to censure Israel … for Israel’s own good, of course. When it comes to Israel, we Jews would do well to learn that the existence and well-being of Israel does not and must not depend on mah yomru hagoyim or what the nations will say; the well-being of Israel is inextricably related to the support it receives from Jews within its borders as well from Jews around the world. Once we Jews embrace that resolution, we will never again view U.N. resolutions 242 or 1515 or any other resolution the U.N. passes the same way.
Ideally, Rosh Hashanah and particularly Yom Kippur are rife with resolution. Even though Teshuvah has for the most part been understood to mean repentance, resolution would make for a far better translation. Judaism strongly cautions against entering a new year with unresolved issues causing individuals to be at odds with others or even with themselves. Unless the past is resolved, how can one welcome the future? When it comes to our personal resolutions – provided they are fair and equitable – few, if any dare offer unsolicited advice.
You say you want to make a resolution? By all means! Realize, however, that a study undertaken to track New Year resolutions showed a meager 12% success rate. Better, focus on resolutions where you achieve clarity. Better, embrace resolutions not to be swayed or angered by what other nations say. Better, concentrate on resolutions to repair and clean up mistakes of the past. A better resolution you won’t find.