After watching countless students graduate with honors in their respective academic departments, I’ve found that above all the studies, perhaps the single most integral technique they’ve acquired is how to cram for an exam.
A study I saw recently on time.com found that most students who cram typically only pass their examinations with an average score. Yet, they learn the lesson of being accountable for all that they’ve studied (or should have been studying) during the semester. This valuable lesson carries over into the real world.
As we are close to the days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, one of the beautiful gifts G-d gives us is the opportunity to “cram for his exam.” Despite our wrong- doings throughout the year, during the month of Elul and the High Holidays, we have the opportunity to do Teshuvah, to rectify our past, and be blessed for a sweet new year.
Rosh Hashanah, literally translated, means “the head of the year.” Our sages teach that just as a brain gives vitality to the limbs and organs of the body, the 48 hours of Rosh Hashanah imbue life and blessing for the entire year.
We eat the head of a fish, to remind us of the impact of this holiday. We dip the apple in honey, to represent a sweet new year. The challah loaves are shaped round, symbolizing the continuity of creation. And, most of all, we blast the shofar, proclaiming our love and commitment to the Almighty, beseeching our Father, our King, to be inscribed and sealed for a happy and healthy, sweet New Year!
Yossi Winner is the rabbi of Chabad at the University of Arizona, Rohr Jewish Student Center.