By Rabbi Mordechai Levin
Published by The Jewish Post and Opinion – August 31, 2016
Jewish people across the world are engaged in preparations for Rosh Hashanah — one of the most important times in the Hebrew calendar. Rosh Hashanah has deep significance in that it marks the beginning of a process of reflection and self-examination that culminates in Yom Kippur. The High Holidays are our chance to start again, renew ourselves and renew our lives.
Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel (1907-1972), a Conservative rabbi and theologian, wrote a book titled, The Sabbath, in which he explored the importance of time in Judaism.
Heschel wrote that Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals, and our Holy of Holies is Yom Kippur.
Heschel said that Judaism is a religion that aims to sanctify time. For some people, time is unvaried, homogenous. To them, every day is like every other day and every hour is like every other hour. But no two days or hours are alike. Each hour is unique and the only one given at that moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.
If before going to bed every night, we would tear a page from the calendar and say, “There goes another day of my life, never to return,” we might become aware of the value of time. Time is life. Therefore, if we waste our time, we waste our life.
The sounding of the shofar calls us to examine our lives: “Awake, you sleepers, and ponder your deeds; remember your Creator, forsake your evil ways, and return to God!”
Therefore, on these High Holidays, let us resolve to live a good life, a life of commitment and purpose.
Let us find the time to be grateful for the daily blessings that we are given — the blessing of life itself and the opportunity to enjoy our lives in the time we have.
Let us resolve to tell the people we love that we love them, to reach out to those who need us, to make amends with those who have hurt us and whom we have hurt.
Let us find the time to make a new Jewish beginning for our families and ourselves.
Let us resolve to study more Torah, to pray with kavanah (conscious intention and concentration), to speak kindness and love, and to live a life permeated with Mitzvot.
Let us find the time to make a commitment to our people and our heritage, to grow in our commitment to Jewish values and practices and to the land of Israel and Jerusalem.
Let us stand with the State of Israel as it fulfills its most basic responsibility as a democracy: defending the nation and protecting its citizens.
This is the year. This is the time.
My best wishes for a year of life, health, fulfillment, justice and peace. Shanah Tovah!