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a positive outlook

09/30/2021 09:59:24 AM

Sep30

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

For many who have observed all of the Fall Holidays, there is usually a bit of relief that they are finally OVER!  Hopefully the weather will be nice and the Sukkah can be disassembled and stored away before it rains. The sheer volume, intensity and pace of sermon writing, Torah reading preparation, review of prayers specific to each holiday and incredible number of festive meals will now return to the normative, weekly routines. The joy in the celebration of Simchat Torah is a truly wonderful and uplifting way to conclude the holidays of Tishrei. In addition to the review that most synagogues will undertake to correct or improve things for next year, we too should pause for a moment to take stock of our experiences from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah. Perhaps the thoughts that I raise below might encourage you to do so.

  • What Inspired You? What service, or particular prayer, or Hazzan’s chant, or Rabbi’s sermon, brought you to a “wow” moment?
  • How are You Different? It is not possible to go through Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, and come out exactly as you were before in 5781. How have you changed? What will you focus on being better at in 5782?
  • Where Did Your Uplift Come From? What was the moment when you felt closer to God?
  • Where Does Your Hope Come From? We just concluded the recitation of Psalm 27, which we began on the 1st day of Elul. Its’ final verse reads, “Hope in God, be strong, take courage, and hope in God.” Where do you find your hope?
  • How Did You Perceive Community? No matter if you were praying in-person or at home, you were part of a community. What will you continue to do to not only remain part of that community, but grow that community as well?

There are many more areas to consider, but I thought that these might be good appetizers to get you started, in the hopes that they lead to the main course and even a quality dessert. While COVID-19 has impacted all of us in so many ways, we can also impact others in meaningful ways, starting with ourselves. Just because the tunnel that we have been travelling through sparked a glimmer of light at the end, and then suddenly got much longer, that does not mean that we will be travelling through this tunnel forever, although for some it does feel like forever. Let us not forget that we are not travelling through this tunnel as solo passengers. All of humanity is with us. We can decide who is in our car and whom we wish to interact with on a daily basis. Protocols to keep us healthy and safe do not have to be at odds with our engagement with people in our lives. Whether we utilize technology, gather with those that we feel safe with or see others at a distance, our lives are intertwined in the lives of others. John Donne was accurate when he said that “no man is an island”.

I pray that you are able to find good answers to the challenges above, and that you are able to move forward positively, courageously, intelligently and hopefully into 5782.

Fri, October 22 2021 16 Cheshvan 5782