This is my blog for topics of general, Jewish interest, named for the magazine I launched in 2005. I have additional blogs for other areas. Follow on Twitter or on Google+ under Ariella Brown. Please note that comment moderation is on, which could keep your comment from appearing right away.
What does it mean to start a New Year? Is it merely a matter of opening up a new calendar at some arbitrary date? Dealing with my cars drained battery provided me with some insight about rebooting ourselves for the New Year.
I drive a Toyota Sienna that was born the same year as one of my children. It’s well into its teens by now, but still going OK for my fairly short local driving needs – except when it refuses to start. In the past, I’ve had the problem blamed on the cold or too infrequent little driving. But now I know it’s something else.
About a year ago, the car would lose power a bit at rest and be completely drained out if I left it for three days or longer. I was told that the battery was still good; the car just needed to be started more often. I got so tired of finding the car dead when I needed to go somewhere that I opted to replace the battery. Just after restarting the car with the new battery, I saw the “power door” light go on. I made sure to close it tightly and then had no problem for many months afterwards.
During the summer, I wasn’t driving very often, and one day the car failed to start. I got it boosted, and then the “power door” light went on. I re-closed the door, and thought I was set because the light did not appear when I turned the ignition off. But a few days later, again, the car didn’t start.
By now I had figured out that the car’s sensors weren’t marking the door as closed even after I cleaned all the contact points and the frame. That tiny bit of sensor alert drained enough power away that the car wouldn’t have enough to restart the car after a couple of days. Re-closing the door manually over and over again didn’t solve the problem because it didn’t alter the sensor reading.
As this was really a problem with an electronic component rather than mechanics of the car, it required the same type of fix one uses for a computer: a reinstall and reboot. Researching the experience others had with the same type of car showed that to be the case, and then I realized that the battery replacement had fixed the problem not due to the battery itself but due to the fact that a battery switch always entails a reinstall and reboot.
If this ever happens to you, remember this fix: detach the battery, wait a minute or so, reattach it, start the car, and then close the door a few times. Though the reboot and reinstall are what clear the setting to make the fix work, you still have to be sure to have to take the preliminary and follow up steps to be sure you’re addressing the problem.
I thought about this experience and then realized that the reinstall and reboot is not just for computers. It’s for getting ourselves spiritually back in the zone. That is the idea of a New Year: a spiritual reboot. The computer’s reboot helps clear the old cache, and our New Year gives us a refresh that allows us to take leave of what’s keeping us back so that we can move forward unhindered.
Like the car’s fix, getting our spiritual reboot takes some effort. That’s why we don’t just wait for the first day of Tishrei to think about the New Year but plan and prepare for it in advance. We focus our attention on what we want to change and take the necessary preliminary steps—like clearing any dirt that may be blocking the door. There’s also the follow up – paying close attention to the door when we want to be sure it’s closed – that we do in the days following Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur. The trick is to use the power of the Rosh Hashana reboot to get spiritually refreshed and then focus on keeping on track for our goals in the New Year.