One of our sages tells the story of how returning to his home one day, he found his son crying in the field. “Why do you cry, my son?” His son answered: “Because I was playing hide and seek.” His father asked: “But it is a game. Why are you crying?” “I am crying because while I was hiding, nobody was seeking.” The sage understood, and suggested that so it is with our soul. It is hidden. It hides but too often we do not seek after it.
We are but days from Rosh Hashanah. We will come together to be with family. We will join in singing familiar melodies and listening to the blasts of the shofar. And for most of us I suspect, we will try to do what our tradition calls a Cheshbon ha-Nefesh, “an accounting of our soul.” That is to say: we will give thought to how we have lived during this past year, our satisfactions and regrets. And we will give thought to this new year, and those things that we would like to change about ourselves.
Yes, we come together at a very trying time in our world. Israel has endured a harsh and violent year. Jews throughout Europe fear the increase in anti-Semitism. And throughout the Middle East, there is so much war and bloodshed, that it has become difficult to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys–if there really are any “good guys!
For sure, we all hope for a better year for humanity. And we hope and pray for a fulfilling and healthy year for our loved ones and for ourselves. And even as we all wish that we could change our world for the better, our Jewish tradition calls to us to embrace that vision by starting with ourselves. May we be granted the wisdom and courage to look deep within ourselves, and may we find there a soul of love, kindness and yearning for life and blessing.
I wish you all Shana Tova–a year of personal fulfillment, good health, and continued reaching to bring loving-kindness to our world.
Rabbi David Greenberg