Where does the time go? It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time again and the Holidays are right around the corner. If we close our eyes, we can almost imagine tasting Rosh Hashana’s apples and honey, dabbing a sweet ending onto the year that has passed. If we listen carefully, we can almost hear the echoes of the blast of the shofar, waking us up for our year to come. Almost.
We begin to look forward to spending time with our friends, family and community, and we anticipate feeling the aches and longing in our hearts for those who are no longer with us. We begin again the period of reflection and confrontation of our own lives. This is the familiar backdrop of the Yamim Noraim/The High Holidays or Days of Awe, yet it may feel new at the same time. The taste or feeling of the familiar, yet new, of the High Holidays, is meant to inspire us for renewal.
Our community has recently felt renewal in its own spiritual technology. The process of making three of our torah scrolls kosher is complete, inviting us to renew our own relationship with our sacred sources. Our chairs have been updated for comfort and ease, and they await our spending more quality and comfortable time on them during the upcoming holiday services. Our new high holiday prayer book, Mahzor Lev Shalem, awaits our heartfelt prayers, questions, smiles, tears and reflection.
Throughout the entire year, we sing at the conclusion of the torah service, “hashiveinu Adonai/help us turn to you, elecha v’nashuva/and we shall return, hadesh yameinu k’kedem/renew our lives as in days of old.” At this time of year, these words move from the periphery to the center of our lives. This important movement happens somewhat on its own, but it also requires partners. The holidays are already on the calendar, but it is up to us to calendar their message of renewal into our daily lives. This is not a quick or simple transaction, like a text message or pulling out cash from an ATM. Rather, it is one that takes time, intention, energy and effort, like an old fashioned “snail mail” letter or a visit to the Ultimate Teller, if we aspire to create more meaning in our lives.
As the turn of our sacred year approaches, I invite us to allow ourselves to be turned as well. One way to do this is to begin or restart a new ritual, practice or helpful habit that adds meaning to our lives, and to share it with others. As we greet the New Year, I look forward to renewing our lives together, as in days of old.
Shana tova u’mtuka/A good and sweet New Year,
Rabbi Mark Melamut