As I reflect upon our world as we are on the verge of a new Jewish year, I am saddened and troubled. I see hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing for their lives, seeking opportunity and freedom. I see a world where the dangerous “sharks” are not only in the sea; they are part of our world and in many ways embody the worst that is human civilization. Isis, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram, Syria, and of course Iran (Just to name some). We hope and pray that our world will stand up to these perpetrators of evil, and that all good and decent people will be spared the wrath of those who perpetuate such cruelty and madness.
And close to home, I think of the people of our congregation. For so many it seems, this has been a difficult and trying year. So many among us who have confronted serious illness. So many who have been touched by death, and who now carry deep scars within their souls. May you find a measure of comfort in your precious memories, and may you be granted the strength to confront your personal trials.
But this has also been a year when most of us were blessed to experience joyous occasions. There have been births, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, and the satisfaction of seeing our children grow into good and responsible adults. And those are no small things, especially in a world where we are daily confronted with accounts of cruelty and brutality.
Yes, we hope and pray for a better year. For ourselves and our loved ones, and for those many people of our world who are not so blessed as us. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we pray for life and for blessing. We declare: “Repentance, prayer and charity avert the evil decree.” Whatever those words mean to us, may we use this time to search our souls for that which is best within us, and may we remember that it is not possible to help someone else without enriching ourselves at the same time.
No, all of our prayers may not be answered. And some question if they are even heard. Still, our prayers remind us of the values and ideals we cherish, and of the kind of world that we wish for all good people. Let each of us resolve to do our part to make such a world possible as we remember “pray as if everything depends upon God; and act as if everything depends on you.”
I wish you and the people you love a sweet, healthy and fulfilling new year.
Rabbi David Greenberg