By Rabbi David
Each year at this season, a moment comes when I lose my sense of time and place. Instead of feeling like Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot or Simchat Torah, my sense of time jumbles. Suddenly I feel all of them at once.
Maybe it’s the changing sunlight. Maybe it’s the season’s disruption of routines, the ebb and flow of the music, or the sheer number of hours. Maybe it’s the intensity of introspection. Maybe it’s something else.
Whatever it is, I’ve come to understand the jumble as a helpful and even necessary part of my spiritual journey of the soul, which is our theme for the High Holy Days 5780.
Spiritually speaking, the flow of these days began with the first mid-summer knock on the outer doors of our psyche, gently getting our attention that change was afoot. Tisha b’Av came: walls fell. Sun angles changed. Leaves began to pop with color. Ancient tunes began to mix in.
Practically speaking, the world is spinning in ways we’ve never seen before. Whatever our beliefs, whatever our politics, these times are not usual. We should feel jumbled: if we don’t feel jumbled, odds are good that we’re not paying attention.
Rosh Hashanah celebrates the sweet renewal that can be ours, whatever our lives may be. We stir to go deep and change our lives for real. Shabbat Shuvah leans toward transformation and the singularity we call Yom Kippur. At Kol Nidre we begin to transcend ourselves. On Yom Kippur we touch the release from this plane and emerge so clear and high that we don’t need the protective fixity of a roof overhead.
That’s Sukkot: sheer joy, earned by our spiritual journey and purely unearnable, a gift of grace.
It’s an otherworldly journey, this journey of the soul. Writing these words, I feel my usual sense of self starting to jumble. For me, this jumble usually reaches its peak at Neilah on Yom Kippur afternoon, when I go outside into TBE’s garden for the final prayer service. Returning to shul from the garden, I must walk west toward the glow of the setting sun. I get lost in that glow, not knowing exactly where I end and where the setting sun begins – and all the more whole for it.
May this season of soul renew you and your loved ones for a year of sweet goodness.