5784/2023 Yamim Nora’im ~ Days of Awe Reflections by Rabbi Judy Shanks
Despite all my heavy worries about the state of the world—climate disasters; challenges to democracy here, in Israel, and in many other countries; homelessness; the plight of millions upon millions of refugees—
despite all these frightening realities, I cling mightily to the promises of this New Year we have entered. As the metaphorical liturgy of the machzor (high holy day prayer book) reminds us, on Rosh Hashana the world is created anew, we are created anew, offered the opportunity of fresh clean pages to write into our personal histories that will lay claim to our best versions of ourselves. In these early days of the New Year, I let my tongue linger and my attention focus on the sweet taste of apples or challah dipped in honey. I offer hearty thanks to bees and bee keepers, apple growers, grain harvesters and bakers the world around. Hayom! This new, good day, these first fresh days of the New Year, we celebrate what is and what can be, the limitless possibilities now in our hands, the boundless gratitude for the multitudes of blessings large and small granted to us already.
And as we move through the ten new days, preparing to face our own mortality through the liturgy and themes of Yom Kippur, we realize, powerfully, how the honeyed sweetness of a New Year also challenges us truly to change. We are meant to drop our own pretenses and defenses and examine our daily actions as mindfully and minutely as we delight in our daily blessings.
New Lehrhaus exists because adults of every age want to learn, to grow, to gain insights and acquire tools to enhance our lives intellectually, culturally and spiritually. These ten days and the New Year ahead give us the opportunity to resolve, again, to break habits that no longer serve us well, repair broken relationships, forgive ourselves and others for very human foibles, guard our tongues from hateful or gossipy speech, choose life-giving, generous ways to give to family members, friends, our communities, our world. What is in your heart to change in 5784? How will you capture, and not squander, the limited, precious moments of life, blessing and growth we pray to be granted in the days ahead?
May the New Year bring all of us life and health, peace, sweetness, learning and blessing.
L’shana tova tichatavu v’tichateimu ~ לשנה טובה תיכתבו ותיחתמו
May you be inscribed and sealed for goodness.