I always thought I had perfect vision. I have never needed glasses, and always passed every eye exam with flying colors. But it appears I somehow cheated. As it turns out, I hardly have any vision in my right eye.

The eye doctor explained that all along, my left eye has been compensating. So much so that the weakness never appeared. This did, however, explain why I have no depth perception. For one can only see layers to something with the balance of both eyes. It also gave me a very rational reason (finally!) for why I often bump into things when I walk, not to mention that I walk at an angle and slowly push whoever is walking alongside me into the gutter.

One can only see layers to something with the balance of both eyesFrom a Kabbalistic point of view, the left eye symbolizes the idea of judgment, gevurah, whereas the right eye is that of chesed, lovingkindness. Not great to think that I have been lacking in my lovingkindness when I look at things. But, if I am honest with myself, it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. I am tough on myself, and I am tough on others. That has always been how I “see” things.

Enter Rosh Hashanah, where for the past month I have been giving and receiving blessings for a good and sweet new year, “shanah tovah.” And I have been doing my best to prepare myself for this month of holidays where we are judged, forgiven, and—G‑d willing—sealed in the Book of Life for the new year. And while I have thought about my past, and resolved to be healthier, happier, nicer, more patient and other positive qualities in the new year, it recently occurred to me that a sweet new year is not just about what happens during the upcoming year, but how I choose to think about it and thereby see it.

I have taught this concept many times before, but this year it really hit home. Rosh Hashanah literally means “the head of the year,” as Rosh Hashanah begins the Jewish new year. But the word for year, shanah, is also the three-letter root of the word shinui, which means “to change.” Chassidic philosophy teaches us that the beginning of the new year requires a shift, a change of head space. Newness takes place when we look at things in a fresh way, in a different way, through new lenses. Change how we think, change our perspective, and we will see the world around us in a new light. Change ourselves, and our lives will change.

Change ourselves, and our lives will changeMy visit to the eye doctor revealed to me how easy it is to think something is okay, that something is in perfect working order, when in truth it really needs help. How true this is in so much of my life—that only when I delve deeper do I discover that something was lacking that needing tweaking. And just having that awareness, that knowledge, allows us to begin the healing process. And the sweetness that we hope for in the new year will, in part, come from how sweet we choose to see our lives, and how much we work to sweeten the lives of others. For my eyes, this means giving my left eye a bit of a break while I work to strengthen my right one. Not an easy feat, but only by working on a weakness does it have a chance to change.

So as we enter Rosh Hashanah, our New Year, may we all be blessed to have the strength and clarity to look at our past to glean lessons and direction, and with a fresh perspective and new consciousness look to our new year and recognize the opportunities that await us. And may we all truly have a shanah tovah umetukah, a sweet and good new year.