Keeping the Faith: Approach of Jewish New Year offers opportunities for reflection, hope – The Columbus Dispatch

Posted By on August 23, 2021

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson and Rabbi Misha Zinkow| Special to The Columbus Dispatch

If the sky is clear this evening, look up and you will see the full moon.

In two weeks, as the moon wanes, it will signal that the new Jewish year is about to begin.

On the evening of Sept.6, as we all mark what is widely known as the official end of summer on Labor Day, the Jewish community will gather to celebrate the High Holidays, which begin with Rosh Hashanah. The new year of 5782 will begintwo weeks from now.

During this month known as Elul (pronounced Eh-lool) that precedes the new year, we reflect on the ways in which we have failed to live up to the best that is in us, when and how we have missed the mark. The month of Elul is dedicated to spiritual preparation for the sacred work of personal repair.

The sight of a full moon can inspire awe, and we encourage you to take a good long look at the moons soft and gorgeous light. The cycles of the moon, the suns rising and setting, and the stars nightly appearance in the sky all create a sense of predictability during what we can all agree are volatile times.

The world feels unstable, perilously stretched between the opposite poles of despair and hope, leaving many of us breathless and even exhausted simply trying to stay grounded.

Our physical and mental well-beingsare at risk, and a healthy future for our planet is seriously threatened. Perhaps a good long look at the full moon will remind us not to take the earth itself for granted.

We are not the first to live in a fragile world, and all faith traditions impart insight for anxious souls. We look to ours for guidance.

Jews have endured other dark chapters, and our sages provided us with wisdom for pushing forward. In the late 18th century, a revered Hasidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, taught that the world is a narrow bridge, and we must not we cannot despair.

Troubling times and fear have cunning ways of blinding us to the presence of God, but only if we so let them. We are, Nachman said, our own worst adversaries when we allow the clutter of our lives and the mounting challenges of our world to obscure the holy that is right before us.

Even when moving along that narrow bridge, we can prevail over our fears when focusing instead on our faith. In each of us lies the spiritual capacity to be grateful for the souls within us and, whats more, to recognize the divine that dwells in other people.

Cultivate faith in yourself, Nachman might have said to us today, and in others. Cut through the encrusted layers that conceal our authentic selves and stifle our relationships. Reach for the light of a more holy, more stable world in partnership with others.

The next new moon marks the arrival of the Hebrew month of Tishri,two weeks from tomorrow. (Rosh Hashanah begins the evening of Sept 6.)

For 10 days the Jewish community will enter an intense period of prayer and personal renewal known as the Ten Days of Repentance. It will begin with the new year the Birthday of the World and conclude with Yom Kippur on the 10th day of the month of Tishri. This is the Day of Atonement (Sept.16), a full day of fasting and communal worship.

These days are dedicated to the seeking and granting of forgiveness for sins committed against others and against God. Such a weighty agenda is tackled with spiritual preparation that began twoweeks ago and continues.

Elul, this very month, is to the new year what a foundation is to a home. In it, we dedicate ourselves to laying the footing for a spiritually stable doorway as we enter a new year. It is a 29-day project that relies on self-examination, an exploration of ones conduct in the past year and turning intentionally outward to repairing relationships with our fellow human beings and with God.

As summer yields slowly to fall, we admire natures exquisite and natural changes. Such effortless change is not so easy for humans. Can we forgive after being hurt? Can we find strength after loss? Can we rebuild after destruction? Can we seek peace where there is strife? Can we listen with empathy and not judgment?

This evenings full moon can light a path forward as we continue to enjoy these shortening summer days. In its light we can each venture forward with good intentions: to discover our own reserve of goodness, kindness, and acceptance.

We have challenges ahead personal and collective ones. Yet let us be blessed to meet them with the faith, audacityand hope that we find in the wisdom of our traditions.

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson is president of The Wexner Foundation. She is married to Rabbi Misha Zinkow,retired senior rabbi at Temple Israel whoisnowJourney Builder for Makor Educational Journeys.

Keeping the Faith is a column featuring the perspectives of a variety of faith leaders from the Columbus area.

Read more:

Keeping the Faith: Approach of Jewish New Year offers opportunities for reflection, hope - The Columbus Dispatch

Related Posts


Comments are closed.

matomo tracker