The Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as Shabbat Shuva—the Sabbath of repentance. The traditionalists/
fundamentalists believe that it is during this period when God is deciding our fate for the coming year. And while we may not take that notion literally, this is surely a time for us to take stock of our lives and resolve to live better than we do. So do I believe that for all of us there is the question: “What are our priorities in life, and to what degree are we living those priorities?”
Appropriate for this special Shabbat are the words of William Shakespeare: “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” Might we be more generous with ourselves toward those we love? Might we be more aware and responsive to the needy in our midst? Might we not make of our lives a greater blessing through showing kindness to those whose lives we touch? And might we not give more and richer expression to our Jewish identity, and try harder to convey the meaning of that precious identity to our children and grandchildren?
These are but some of the questions that call to us on this Shabbat Shuva. Yes, this is a time for searching our souls and resolving yet again to make those changes in our lives that might lead us to greater fulfillment and a sense of worthy purpose.
For all of us, may we be inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the coming year. And let us remember that we ourselves hold the “pen” that will do much of the writing. That is the great challenge of these Days of Awe: To write a fulfilling and worthy chapter for ourselves for this new year. Yes, “we know what we are, but know not what we may be.” It’s a statement of hope and promise for each of us.
Rabbi David Greenberg