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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Thoughts on The Jewish NewYear (this Wednesday night, Sept. 12 2007)
(updated the 3rd of Tishrei, after Shabbat)
The Jewish year is about to change and I will be taking a break from updating this blog as I pray for the peace and healing of the world at large. Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kipur and Sukkot are times for reflection, a chance to ponder the big questions about life. Here are a few of my thoughts about life, meaning and purpose:
Tekia, a powerful sound of the shofar, is linguistically related to "litkoa," to stick an object in the ground. The sound symbolizes our stake in the relationship with our Creator. The sound literally causes vibration in our feet. It is high drama.
True, we call the upcoming season the Ten Days of Awe. But remember to Whom it is we're praying and pledging homage as we tremble in judgment about our pasts and futures. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach used to chuckle at this time of year, explaining to one and all that "The Judge is my Abba (Daddy/Papa)." He meant that we are judged with love and mercy, and our efforts to improve mitigate His pending decisions.
As HaShem (GOD) puts us into puzzling and agonizing situations, we can adjust our perspectives to comprehend that we are not being punished, rather we are being educated and perhaps entrusted with a precious opportunity to grow in a spiritual manner. Think of it this way: hindsight about some of your past experiences gives you an understanding, an insight about life, that helps you and maybe even other people to progress. You didn't see your wisdom developing as you experienced shock about some surprising, perhaps chilling situation. Still, you ended up wiser if wearier. Not dumber and defeated.
Another sound of the shofar is Shvarim, the cry of the broken heart so in need of comfort. The Shvarim sounds literally make our chests reverberate.
Teruah, the signal of pomp and circumstance, reminds us to focus on the mental/emotional/spiritual effort to crown GOD as our King. The clear call of Teruah resonantes in our ears, our head.
These are the three sound of the Jewish New Year season. They are designed to drive home several points at the very time we are evaluating our relationships with the world and our Creator. That re-evaluation, coupled with the effect of the shofar's call, can make a serious impact on our perspective.
Suffering is pain without meaning. When you see meaning, relevance, in your troubling situations, then you turn the pain into power. It jettisons you forward. You have a unique gift to contribute to the world.
As the sounds of the shofar reverberate around the world, know that it is your yearnings calling to GOD and He/She calling to you as well. BTW, Jewish tracts and tradition teach us that GOD is not limited by human realities such as gender and abilitiy. GOD is omnipotent and beyond human limitations or frailties.
As for the love of GOD, consider this: after our season of judgment and awe, Jews are commanded to dwell in rickety booths called sukkot for a week. The sukkot are reminiscent of how GOD protected Jews wandering from Egyptian slavery through the dangerous desert to Israel. We were shielded from the oppressive heat by cloud cover, fed with manna, slaked with flowing water from Miriam's ever-traveling well. Our clothes and footwear never became ragged. No woman miscarried and the sick were healed. Moses created the Cadeusus at GOD's command, to heal the ill. It is today's symbol of medical care: a staff entwined with two snakes.
We celebrate the compassion with which GOD embraces us and our best efforts, and our genuine limitations. It is a Jewish party time with choice foods, charming decorations, song and the sharing of good feelings. Our blessings extend to the world at large.
Praying for your excellent and insightful welfare, Yojeved