It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. — Deuteronomy 11:12
Jews around the world are entering the most holy time on the Jewish calendar, the High Holy Days. Beginning with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and ending ten days later with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, this season is marked by intense reflection and repentance. This is one of 18 devotions focused on this holy season, exploring its meaning and the many lessons we can learn from this biblically mandated observance. To learn more, download our free study on the shofar, ram’s horn, that ushers in this holy season.
When the Bible tells us that God’s eyes are always on the land, the simplest explanation is that God pays special attention to the land of Israel. It seems that Divine providence is extra palpable in that tiny sliver of land. However, the Jewish Sages teach that there is another lesson from those words as well.
They explain that “land” refers to the entire earth and everyone who lives on it, and God’s “eyes” refer to a time of judgment. “The beginning of the year to its end,” they explain, refers to the judgment that takes place on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. On that day, according to the Jewish faith tradition, God decides the fate of every living creature for the year ahead.
But there is something else that goes on that day. While God decides our lot for the next twelve months, we also make important decisions about the year to come. We call those decisions our New Year’s resolutions.
The rabbis point to a nuance in our verse that isn’t so obvious in English, but jumps right out at you in the original Hebrew. The beginning of the year is called the year, but the end of the year is called a year. What the rabbis learn from this is that at the beginning of every year we all call it “The Year,” as in, “This will be the year that I lose 20 pounds . . .This will be the year that I quit that bad habit . . This will be the year I find my soul mate.” And so on.
But, explain the rabbis, at the end of the year, the enthusiasm wears off. We realize that this year is a year just like any other. I gained 5 pounds, and I’m still stuck in my same old patterns. This verse is a warning, but also a suggestion.
The verse tells us that God’s eyes are “continually” on the land – from the first day of the year to the last. It makes no difference to God whether it is the first day or last day of the year. He is there 100%, doing His job every single day. And that’s how we have to approach our lives. We need to live every day like it’s our first and our last.
It doesn’t matter which day out of the 365 that it happens to be. We need to show up 100%! When we do that, we are guaranteed that at year’s end, it will be THE year that we anticipated from the very beginning.
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