Rabbi Dr. Irwin Wiener
The days set aside for introspection have finally arrived – a time of challenges. This time is a reminder of how our life flashes before us – the time we are put to the test.
Imagine – such awesome things to think about. What are the challenges? How do we meet the test? How do we contemplate our life, its past and future? These questions and their answers hold the key to a successful life, the essence of our worth.
At this time of the year, Jews from all over the world will gather to remember and to contemplate. What makes this exercise so difficult is that it requires us to look inward and understand how it affects us outwardly.
The act of concentrating on the past includes many sacrifices for our loved ones; the location – our minds and hearts responding to needs; the players – all of us, blending together to reach for our destiny, our purpose and value.
The act of submission such as did Abraham, is a lesson in humility. The location of our deeds, such as Mt. Moriah, indicates the part our souls play in guiding us to a higher plane. And we, the players in this dramatic rendition of God’s purpose, are connected by the frailties of our mortality.
We have the ability to be masters of our fate and servants to our conscience.
The sum total of who we are can be found in a kiss, a smile, a touch, a prayer. We can and should represent all that is good in the universe.
We are a kind deed, a kind word. We can and should bring order to chaos, trying to make sense out of all that is. It is so easy to become discouraged – to look at life with despair.
The difficulty of living is that sometimes we cannot act – we cannot find a place for ourselves and, more often than not, we forget that there are others around us who cry and laugh and are traveling life’s road with us.
The lessons of these sacred days are that we can and should rekindle the passion in our relationships that will in and of itself lead to peace with God. And just as important is that we can find comfort in each other.
Sometimes we have to step back to be able to move forward. We have to learn to make our moments last because, as the saying goes, “the best of times is now.”
We utter familiar words – to help us fashion good from bad, to take reality into the sublime, to shape a blessing from a single touch, to sympathize, to eliminate hopelessness, to remove nothingness and replace it with purpose, to gain insight so that we can visualize the signs that are right in front of us, to be able to live our lives as they were meant to be lived – with trust and hope and caring.
God doesn’t need crowns crested with jewels. God doesn’t need another song or another poem. What we bring before God are broken promises, empty words, broken hearts, a world in turmoil filled with hate and destruction.
Rosh Hashanah gives us the opportunity to begin to right the wrongs. Rosh Hashanah affords us the chance to act responsibly. Rosh Hashanah presents us a place in time to make sense of everything. Rosh Hashanah opens the door to connect with one another.
Yom Kippur, on the other hand, enables us to reflect on these things and more. How we can become better in determining our future. It enables us to look inside our beings to understand that through effort we can achieve peace and harmony. We can, and should remind ourselves that goodness and mercy will create an atmosphere conducive to tranquility.
Life is what we make of it, and all the trials and tribulations are the steps to a better life. And the High Holidays can help us understand that all this is a necessary aspect of the journey we embarked upon at the very beginning of time.
Shanah Tovah – a blessed year. May we all witness a year filled with life, a meaningful life, together with family and friends. And may God find favor in our acts because the prophets knew what it meant to proclaim that God wants us to be good and merciful and deal justly with each other more than anything else we can do or say.