This week on the blog, Rabbi Erin invites us to reflect on the past year; to hold on to the things that bring us joy and let go of the things that cause us pain.
I have in my hands two boxes
Which God gave me to hold.
God said, “Put all your sorrows in the black box
And all your joys in the gold.”
I heeded God’s words, and in the two boxes
Both my joys and sorrows I stored.
But though the gold became heavier each day
The black was as light as before.
With curiosity, I opened the black,
I wanted to find out why,
And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole
Which my sorrows had fallen out by.
I showed the hole to God, and mused,
“I wonder where my sorrows could be.”
God smiled a gentle smile and said,
“My child, they’re all here with me.”
I asked why God gave me the boxes,
Why the gold and the black with the hole?
“My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings. The black is for you to let go.”
As I look back on this year, there seem to be so many things that should have gone into the black box, so many things to let go. At times, they may seem to outweigh what we want to hold onto. This is the purpose of the box with the hole. It is not the sorrows to which we should cling.
Our tradition has a built-in time to let go. Between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we can participate in the ritual of Tashlich, a ritual of letting go. We cast away that which is weighing us down. While this is traditionally done with tossing pieces of bread into a body of water, there are many modern interpretations. (For a few Tashlich ideas, click here) Tashlich allow us the chance to lighten our load by naming those things we need to let go and move into the new year with our hearts a lighter and our minds clearer.
And what of those things in the gold box, which seemingly grows ever heavier? I imagine that as the gold box gets heavier, we get to look back into the box and reflect on what is making it so. There is joy to be found in poring over memories and recalling what has brought us light and fulfillment.
As we enter the new year, I invite you to think about what you would have put into these two boxes. Maybe even make your own (even carving a hole in the black one), and with your family, fill the boxes with your joys and sorrows.
L’shana tovah u’metukah. May this new year bring you joy, sweetness, health, and contentment. May your sorrows fall through the hole in your black box, and may your gold box overflow.