The Tabula Rasa Speech

Mr. Bill Williams, my headmaster from middle and high school, began each school year with a welcoming speech.  It was the new year, he said, and all students had a chance to enter into it with a clean slate – a “tabula rasa.”  Secretly I enjoyed the Tabula Rasa Speech, coined by my fellow classmates.  Though many said they considered it boring, they were as rapt an audience as high-holiday temple goers.  Which brings me to my next thought…

Poly Prep

With Rosh Hashana only four days away, it dawned on me that the Tabula Rasa Speech coincided at a good time.  Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, and as the Jews welcome it in, they throw bread into the water.  The act is “tashlich,” signifying the “casting off” of sins from the past year.  Sure, just because we throw bread into the water doesn’t mean those wrongs are suddenly righted.  But it helps to confront them – so one may feel the tabula rasa that should accompany the new year.

Does the water carry away your apologies, thoughts, prayers, whatever, as the bread floats away?  Well, if it’s stone-ground whole wheat, maybe 🙂  No, nothing is a substitute for being direct with oneself and others.  Tashlich is the start of that reconciliation- the tabula rasa – allowing you to take on the new year with a clear head and heart.

The apples and honey signify the sweetness of the new year

The apples and honey signify the sweetness of the new year

I’m not religious – but this time of year makes it hard not to feel closer to my family and people.  It is typical to consume apples and honey – both sweet in taste – to represent the beauty and sweetness of the new year.  Besides the symbolism of eating this treat, I would argue that tasted together apples and honey are two of the most fittingly combined foods a human body can enjoy.  L’shana tovah (happy new year!)


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by margs on September 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Have you put in a request for the actual speech given by Mr. Williams? It would be nice to read those words of his.


  2. Can I do that? That would be amazing to read now!


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