Business Lessons We Can Learn from the Jewish High Holidays

image (1)-1For those of us MOTs (members of the tribe), tomorrow evening starts Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) and the “days of awe” which will end on Yom Kippur at sundown Saturday. Bluntly, these aren’t my favorite holidays. But as I started to think about them, it struck me that there were some lessons that we could take from these holidays and the celebration of them to guide our businesses.

  1. Never take your existence for granted – So on Rosh Hashanah, one thing you pray for is that you are “sealed in the book of life” for another year. It always feels rather creepy to me because, bluntly, I am young enough that I don’t think of myself in a particularly mortal place over the course of the next 365 days. That is short sighted though. I have friends my age who have died. It is a good thing periodically, in life and even more so in business to think mortally. Will your business last forever? No. Will it last through the next year? Are you doing the right things to make that happen?
  2. Toot your own horn – One of the significant moments of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn). From my brief online research, the reason given for this particular commandment seems to vary based on the source. One explanation I read that stuck with me though is the idea that the shofar is a way to awaken sleeping souls. Rosh Hashanah doesn’t come quietly; your business shouldn’t, either.
  3. Sometimes throwing crumbs in water and watching them float away can be cleansing – There is a practice called Tashlikh that happens during Rosh Hashanah (or some people do this on other days before Yom Kippur). The practice of tashlikh is throwing crumbs which represent one’s sins into the water so they may wash away. I love this tradition for myself (all fresh and sin free!) I love it as well for business; why not absolve yourself of your sins (or mistakes) once a year? That stupid email you sent out without proofreading? You are absolved. That proposal you lost because of a stupid mistake? Absolved, move on.
  4. Apples and honey are delicious together – Ok, this isn’t really a business lesson, but you should know it if you don’t already. Particularly when honey crisp apples are in season.

If you celebrate these holidays L’shana Tova! If not, have a great week.