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Riding into Rosh Hashanah: What Bike Riding Has Taught Me

I enjoy spending hours cycling on Long Island’s roads. One of the first things you learn when riding for such long stretches is not to grip the handlebars too tightly. This may seem counterintuitive. What about when careening down a hill? What about when following closely behind other cyclists? The key, however, is a relaxed grip. Beginners often grip the bars so tightly that they complain about sore necks and shoulders, and even numb hands.

The secret about riding a bike is instead balance rather than grip. So it is with life. You have to let go of holding on too tightly.

In a few days Jews throughout the world will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year. I am thinking that this holiday is about restoring that balance. It is about realizing that we cannot hold on to life with too tight of a grip. Examine the day’s prayers. They speak about the fragility of life. They frighten us with the exclamation: “On Rosh Hashanah it is written and Yom Kippur it is sealed. Who shall live and who shall die…”

The message is clear. It is not all in our hands. It is not all in our control. Hold on—but loosely—and enjoy the ride. Don’t forget, fill your hearts with gratitude. Stop trying to wrest control...