Tanchum Tanfilov, Degania A “Davar for Children”, 1941
With the new year
Rosh Hashana in the diaspora and in the land of Israel, many years ago and now
The children and the youth celebrating the holidays in the Diaspora left a strong and undeniable impression on us. Each holiday with its own character. The joy was felt everywhere in the house and outside, and especially with the children. But this was not so on Rosh Hashana. This holiday would leave a unique impression on us. On the eve of the holiday, when we looked at the "board", we felt that something had ended and we tore off the last page.
Towards the evening and the next day, the Jews run to the synagogue and their children run along with them. Here, in the synagogue, every Jew poured out his heart, asked for mercy and recounted all his troubles to the Creator. The children stood next to their parents, and they also felt that this was a special day, not like the rest of the days of the year and not like the other holidays. It seems to me that on Rosh Hashanah the children were completely different, quieter and more obedient. They, too, felt that y they had to pray and ask for a better new year, for themselves, their families, and all the Jews.
We were left with a pleasant impression just before the eve of Rosh Hashanah, when the Jews went to the river for "Tashlich." It is a custom on Rosh Hashana to go to the river's edge and shake off all the sins and transgressions of the year into the water, while reciting special prayers - "Throw our sins into the depths of the sea." At the same time, the children evade and play on the riverbank, among the trees. The weather was usually nice and the game in the grove was very pleasant.
And here I was, privileged to immigrate to Israel. In the early years, I did not particularly feel the holidays, because working and living in the new society together with the beauty of the country filled my whole heart and soul. It was only after a while that I lived in the group that I began to reflect on the holiday, and to recall the holidays in my childhood. I remember, these were days of poverty and hardship. I studied in the cheder from morning to evening. My Rebbe was already very old and had taught us Torah. I left the room when I was very young because my father had no means to pay the tuition. Even when I was little, I had to start working, earn and help my family. At the same time, all my thoughts and aspirations were to travel to the Land of Israel. Years passed and the dream came true. I came to the Land of Israel together with my friends, I began a new chapter in my life, working the land and having a new social life. First in Judea, then in the Galilee, until I reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee and the banks of the Jordan river in the Degania group.
On Rosh Hashana we gathered for a meeting of friends. We began reflecting on ourselves, our social and cultural lives. Whether we conducted a just and peaceful life, and did we, God forbid, insult each other, were we all responsible for our work during the year? The next day we went to our river, the Jordan. But I will tell you the truth, children, we did not shake our clothes, and we did not throw the sins into the Jordan. And why should we have done it. We felt that we had done no harm to anyone, that we had stolen nothing and had not cheated. We worked our land quietly, and it, the good land, returned us a favor through our great labor. We sowed, harvested and ate - we and our animals. We sold the surplus, and others also enjoyed our good clean wheat.
We spent the holiday singing and dancing and ended up in prayer: let the new year be blessed in everything we do, let our idea be expanded, the idea of the group, in Israel and abroad, let the people of Israel will be blessed with wisdom and start to understand and feel that it lacks a land of its own, and will come to build and revive it.
Years have passed since then. When Rosh Hashana comes, we gather in the beautiful, well-organized dining room - the big ones with the little ones. One of the members reviews the passing year and praises the group, the settlement and the Jewish people with a Blessing of Shana Tova and with a prayer that next year the rule of evil will be eradicated from the world, and freedom will come and reign throughout the world, and along with it complete redemption for the Jewish people.