This last Shabbat before Rosh HaShanah is always one that I approach with mixed emotions. On one hand, I take very seriously the opportunity that comes with the High Holidays to really ‘take stock’ of my life, how I use my time, and the state of my relationships. There is a certain somberness that comes with this type of reflection, for with it there is an acknowledgment that my (and our) mortality is real.
On the other hand, the days leading into the Jewish New Year are light, and usually full of optimism. I love the depth of connection and coming together that we Jews have, woven into our rituals and our aspirations. The reflecting, even though it can be hard work, usually results in me being excited for the changes that I plan to make.
The real question that arises with Rosh HaShanah is: Are there changes that we can make in our lives that will help us to extend the length of our years, and to really live a healthier, more connected life each day?
Our life cycle events, our mitzvot, our holidays, and the Jewish story would all shout to us a resounding ‘yes.’
Our earliest narratives are collected in the Torah, and each Torah scroll is hand-written. If even one letter is missing from it, the Torah scroll is considered ‘not-kosher’ and woefully incomplete.
The rabbis use this as a metaphor for personal empowerment to do good. “We are each,” they say, “letters in the Torah scroll’, and the good that you can do in your lifetime is vital to the Jewish story, that of transforming the world, and has a very real possibility of helping you transform yourself.
May this Shabbat, and your Rosh HaShanah, be a sweet one of depth and meaning.