A number of years ago, Time Magazine placed a mirror on its annual “Person of the Year“ edition. It was pointing to a number of things – how self-sufficient (we believe) we have become, how much power we as individuals have, and, perhaps, how self-centered we are.
We are now entering a very holy time in a holy space. We stand before God and humanity and we will confess sins and ask for forgiveness. I believe we are challenged to not only look at the liturgy carefully, but look beyond the words and prayers. We should look deep into ourselves. The real work of Yom Kippur is internal. We should enter these days as if we are holding up a mirror and viewing ourselves as honestly as possible. And we must go beyond the superficial and look at our deeper feelings, desires and motivations.
It is because we are human that we can consciously understand a need for growth and change. It is in our humanity that there is imperfection. And whatever age, whatever stage we are, there are new challenges and also potential for new opportunities and growth. Don’t be afraid of the mirror. It will reflect aging; but that can be accompanied by greater understanding and knowledge. Let it contain an awareness that we can improve – at every moment, every age and every stage. Let us pay less attention to the physical and the material, and more attention to the soulful and the spiritual. Relationships really matter.
The journey is ours to take. And, if we choose, we can share it with a community of people who share values. We are not alone.
So here’s to a meaningful day of reflection. In it, I hope you find deep meaning. And I hope you realize forgiveness is yours to give and receive. That may be the key to the changes we need.
I wish you an easy fast. And I wish you Shanah Tovah and G’mar Chatimah Tovah. May you be inscribed and sealed for a Good Year.
And of course, I hope to see you in shul!
Rabbi David Steinhardt
P.S. – Regarding the fast…Please, if you are on medications that require food, eat. If you are breast feeding, eat. If your health is compromised, consult your physician. Your health is most important!
This column is dedicated to the memory of Rubin Shafran z”l