While I enjoy seeing the thousands of people who celebrate in Times Square every year to watch the ball drop, the one thing that always bothers me is hearing the common response from those who are interviewed in the crowd. They usually say something to the effect of "good-bye and good riddance to last year." This is almost always well-intentioned and just said to express optimism for the year ahead. However, what it implies is that we can simply move on without any accountability for our actions during the previous year.
The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah 5770, took place months ago. Instead of spending an evening partying with friends, we spent the better part of two days praying. While this would not exactly be my definition of fun, we are lucky to have a tradition in which we take stock of our actions. For any ritual sins committed against God, we asked for forgiveness and do our best not to repeat them. And for any emotional, physical or financial hurt inflicted upon other people (in the financial case, money owed must also be repaid), we directly asked those individuals to forgive us and try to make amends. What drives me crazy, however, is when fellow Jews wait for Rosh Hashanah to arrive before doing this. It's almost comical to see everyone roaming the halls of shuls and yeshivot asking, "Are you mochel me?" (i.e. do you forgive me?). Although it's the right attitude during that time of year, why wait until then to clear things up?
As Jews, we are taught that our actions matter. My hope is that when we are aware of some wrongdoing we have committed against another person, we're more proactive about fixing it. Take the time to go over to that individual, even if you're not too fond of them (it happens...we're all human), explain that you had no place doing what you did, and ask for forgiveness. More often than not, people are impressed by a sincere gesture of reconciliation. If you happen to be on the other side of that question, as long as what occurred isn't truly evil, let it go. We have to pick our fights in life, and it's best to rise above the little things. I can say from personal experience that this is never easy, but you'd be surprised at how good you feel afterwards.