I look down at my little newborn baby, sleeping contently in my arms. I give him a kiss on his forehead. My ten-year-old passes by me, and I tell him to come over. He leans over as I am sitting on the couch, and I reach up to give him a kiss on his forehead. I can’t believe that he’s so tall already. The contrast between the newborn and the ten-year-old is enormous. Was my oldest once so small? Did I really cuddle him in my arms and rock him to sleep? How did the ten years go by so quickly? What will be in another ten years? Will he still let me give him a kiss? I feel anxious and sad; my thoughts race toward the future or are stuck in the past . . .

How did the ten years go by so quickly?

My newborn, Yosef Shalom, and I go for moonlit walks in my living room. I pace and rock him in the middle of the night. I treasure the quiet moments. My eyes well with tears, partly from exhaustion, partly from hormones. I think to myself, “Has it been four years already since I did this last? Why does it have to go so quickly?”

So many thoughts enter my head in those twilight hours. Thoughts about going back to work. Thoughts about how to give each child the attention that he or she needs. I’m up in the morning and I’m thinking about what to make for lunch, for dinner. I think about the laundry that needs washing and the clean clothes that need to be put away. I think about how my four-year-old, who is no longer the baby, is in need of positive attention. I think about how many mistakes I’ve made with the older ones and what a different, more patient mother I am with the younger ones. My eyes brim with tears and I feel anxious and sad; my thoughts race toward the future or are stuck in the past . . .

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read from the Torah about the birth of Isaac and how his mother Sarah banishes Hagar and Ishmael from her home because she sees that Ishmael is a bad influence on her son. Hagar and Ishmael go out to the desert and are about to die of thirst. Ishmael cries, and the Torah says, “For G‑d has heard the voice of the lad where he is.”1 At that point, G‑d sends an angel to show Hagar a well of water, and both she and her son are saved.

In the Midrash, we are told that the ministering angels hastened to indict Ishmael, exclaiming, "Sovereign of the Universe! Would You bring up a well for one who will one day slay Your children with thirst?"

"What is he now?" asked G‑d.

"Righteous," said the angels.

Said G‑d, "I judge man only as he is at the moment."

Why do we read this Torah portion on the first day of Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgement, the start of the New Year, is the day when G‑d tells us, “Live in the moment. Treasure and appreciate this moment. Do the best that you can in this moment.” Once we’ve worked on ourselves and repented, G‑d no longer looks at what we did—because we are a new, changed person. And even though He knows what we will do, He’s not looking at that either. G‑d, in His infinite love and kindness, looks at us and says, “I am looking at you and where you stand now.” We should never feel despair about what we did; we should never feel hopeless or overwhelmed about what we have to do. We need to live in the moment.

We try not to get angry

We try our best not to get angry today. What if we get angry tomorrow? Would we ruin everything? No, and the effort that we spent today counts. It’s huge. It does make a difference. If we make mistakes, should we throw up our hands and cry in despair? Of course not! Today we are new people, in a new situation.

Yes, on Rosh HaShanah, we are standing before the King of Kings. We must feel awesomeness and trepidation. Our lives, our health, our livelihood—everything is on the line. But on this day, our King is also our Father. He’s cuddling us in His arms as He paces back and forth with us. It’s two days of a moonlit walk with our Creator. Our prayers, our actions, our thoughts—everything counts and matters, and He’s whispering to us, “Live in the moment! Do the best that you can right now. Appreciate, live, love each second as it comes.”