Spiritual Theme for September: Stronger Together

By Rabbi David

At this writing, Rosh Hashanah 5782 is just days away. It’ll be my 11th holiday cycle with TBE, and every year still feels like the first.

It’s fitting. After all, Rosh Hashanah is about balancing continuity and change, ancient cycles and new beginnings. Yom Kippur asks us to take our deepest stock, see our hardest truths, reach beyond ourselves, and move forward as joyfully clear as human effort and extra-human power together can make possible. 

For us and Jews worldwide, the High Holy Days can evoke anticipation, memory, community, inspiration, introspection, depth, height and hopefully action to repair the world.  Especially given what this year has been, it seems that new beginnings, taking stock and transformation are exactly what this season most needs.

But how? Isn’t it all too much, given so much that swirls around us?

Yes, it is all too much. And even so, in the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg z”l, whose first yahrzeit comes this Rosh Hashanah, “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”

Of course, there’s no “great, good fortune” in nearly 650,000 covid-19 deaths in the U.S. and 4.5 million worldwide, or whole regions on fire, or historic floods outpaced by more historic drought, or political toxicity, or fanatic extremism that drives desperate Afghanis to chase departing airplanes. This year’s High Holy Days are as poignant and important as any in our lifetimes.

Yet Ginsburg spoke her prescient words at a time only a bit less fraught than today. She wasn’t blind to realities like pandemic, structural inequality, social toxicity and climate crisis. Rather, she saw a future of “great, good fortune” that is within reach when we summon the strength to transform today’s impediments into tomorrow’s springboards.

That strength is our theme for the High Holy Days 5782. Welcome to the Days of Awe.

Together we will tap the limitless power of transformation. We will channel mystical gevurah that gives love (chesed) healthy direction and balance. We’ll seek resilience to bounce back, transforming impediments into springboards. We’ll summon courage to do what’s hard – not because we’re unafraid but because our calling is more important. 

We’ll need all of these forms of strength both hard resolve and soft vulnerability – for our teshuvah journey of introspection, forgiveness, repair and healing. The world, the future, and the land of our souls are calling.

From my heart to yours, I send blessings for a new year of sweet goodness, healthy strength and heaven’s spirit-wind at our backs. L’shanah tovah um’tukah!

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