Rosh HaShana beckons us to enter a mystery. The details of the New Year lie unknown before us. The liturgy asks “Who will live and who will die?” All we can know is what values we will choose to live by. Rosh HaShana is our time of retrospection and reflection. The word Shofar is from the Hebrew root “L’Shapare,” which means “To improve.” Judaism believes humans can improve. It’s not always easy, but the rewards are unlimited. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called Rosh HaShana “The Great Renewal.”
I invite you to begin the process of personal and communal renewal by joining our congregation in song, prayer, sincerity, and deeds of loving kindness. The High Holy Days season is more than just Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippor. The season opens a week before Rosh Hashana with Selichot, a service of changing the Torah covers to white as metaphor for the inner work of change we aspire to achieve. During Rosh HaShana we dip apples in honey to begin the new year with sweetness. On Yom Kippor we seek to cleanse our souls of any shmutz that may have accumulated over the past year. At Sukkot, we enter a temporary dwelling, a Sukkah, to remind us all material attainments are but temporary, and the only thing that is everlasting are the values we teach our children, and model for our neighbors. The pinnacle of the High Holy Days is Simchat Torah, when we commit our selves to learning and relearning as a life-long journey of intellectual and spiritual growth for personal and communal renewal. The Jewish spiritual heritage is enriching and provides oxygen for soul.
These High Holy Days are an opportunity. I invite you to enter. May you make the most of the blessings that await.
My wife, Deborah, and our children, Isaac, Eliora and Rafi join me in wishing you a Gut Yontif and a Gut Yohr, A Sweet and Healthy New Year.
L’Shana Tova Tikatevu,
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a Good and Sweet Year,
Rabbi David Wilfond
It has been said that “you just can’t let life happen to you, you have to make life happen.” More than anything, our High Holydays summon us to consider how we are living and what we are living for. This is our time for embracing new or renewed visions and hopes, and resolving yet again to live our lives as fully and richly as possible, even as life presents us all with such great challenges.
For all of us I suspect, as we look back upon our lives, it is more likely that we will regret the things that we didn’t do, more than what we have done. So is this our time for realizing that most of our disappointments in life are the result, not of efforts gone wrong, but of efforts that were never made.
For each of us, may we be granted the wisdom and the courage to live our days with a passion for life and with worthy purposes. The meaning of these sacred days? I like the observation of Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote that “what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within.” So may these days lead us to rediscover that which is most noble and worthy within our hearts and souls.
Wishing you and your loved ones a year of good health, much fulfillment, and the realization of your most heartfelt hopes and dreams.
Rabbi David Greenberg