Rabbi Vinik’s High Holiday Message
As everyone nostalgically prepares for the end of summer, the Jewish community has ingeniously discovered a way to defeat the doldrums of declining daylight by vibrantly preparing and anticipating the High Holy Days and Jewish New Year.
Yet an important fact seems to be repeatedly forgotten: the month in which the High Holidays begin is actually Tishrei—the sixth month of the calendar, while the Torah refers to the “first month” as Nissan in which Passover is celebrated.
The Jewish calendar implicitly recognizes multiple new years, with Passover renewing creation of the Jewish nation, and Rosh HaShana, renewing Creation of all Human-kind, including the entire terrestrial order and even the universe.
If that’s what Rosh HaShana is about, it may not necessarily be a uniquely Jewish holiday. Even though the Jewish people are commanded in 613 foundational directives from which myriads of laws, principles and values are derived, the Torah teaches major expectations that G-d has of humanity as a whole, including belief in G-d, respect for property, minding animal suffering, and establishing political law.
The common hope is that a plurality of religious systems and personal practices arise unified in acknowledgment of G-d as the Creator of the World and personal caretaker of all human evolution.
We have the sacred opportunity to do teshuva, repentance, to return to our best selves and ideals every High Holiday season. One of the primary metaphors of Rosh HaShana is coming before G-d like sheep before a shepherd. A primary example of Repentance identified on Yom Kippur is the city of Ninveh, a non-Jewish town saved from tragedy due to their collectively intense and authentic change for the better.
May it thus be G-d’s will, that all human-kind alike take this year’s opportunity to renew before our Creator the most awesome and blessed aspects of our lives. By way of heartfelt Prayer and openhanded Charity, we can truly honor our shared Divine Image and be worthy of the abundance inherent in our existence- Amein.
Wishing all a most Heathy and Happy Holiday Season.
Rabbi Daniel Vinik is Rabbi at Temple Zion Synagogue in Long Beach, NY and can be reached for comment or query at firstname.lastname@example.org.