This past weekend, I attended a beautiful Catholic wedding. There was something the Priest said during the ceremony that resonated with me particularly as we are days ahead of Rosh Hashanah. Talking about the couple on the precipice of a new beginning, and The Divinity that is the third member of their marriage, he said, “Feelings of Hope and Love are G-d leaving his signature within us”.
On Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the world, we remember that we, and everything we can conceive of, were created by G-d.
We also remember that we too have been gifted the power to create. It is something injected into our DNA, and when we engage with this power we are tapping into the spark of G-dliness which burns within us. We create in a myriad of ways, from our thoughts to our spoken words, to the letters we type, the notes we play and the food we prepare. Our every little action can be a fingerprint of holiness, much like the sparkles that a toddler leaves through the house after playing with glitter.
As we embark on a new year, our hearts are full of hope, of love and of connection. If these emotions are truly G-d’s signature, then we are being reminded at this time in particular, of his eternal, internal presence. We are also reminded that we have an incredible responsibility to channel this presence in an effective way over the year to come. To leave the fragments of glitter in our wake.
Recently Rabbi Mamane, the Rabbi of our Shul in Soho, discussed the Torah’s instruction on what to do when a deceased body was found in the wilderness between two cities in biblical times. If the person had been murdered and there was no way to know the identity of the felon, the obligation fell upon the town geographically closest to the body, to take care of the burial and to atone for the horrific sin of the man who had committed the murder.
The way they were instructed to atone was incredibly specific, down to the words they were to say. They had to make amends not only for the sinner, but also for their unintentional contributions toward the death, by being part of a society in which such an act could manifest. With great sorrow and humility, they would recognize that nothing occurs in complete isolation and that they too would need to make improvements, to protect the population from such cruel misfortune.
What is more, the town had to atone on behalf of the souls of all the generations before them. In this moment, they recognized that the present civilization was an evolution of the world their ancestors had created. It is possible that with kinder words or greater charity or any shift in action in the past, perhaps the circumstances that led to the murder would not have eventuated.
This is tremendous. The Torah is very specifically holding us responsible, not only for the reality of our times, but also for the world that evolves as a result of us being here. Judaism is very firm in its declaration that we are each born for a completely unique and essential reason. This text is commanding us to acknowledge and understand, the incredible, lasting power of our choices, our actions and even our words.
G-d has given us to take care of, a beautiful and multi faceted world. Often - especially in times like this - it feels immensely complicated. At Rosh Hashanah we must ask ourselves, what are we contributing to His creation? How are we taking care of it and of one another? What is the legacy we are imprinting? How are we leaving our signature?
Whether or not it is apparent in this moment, the effects of our actions will be great and will be intergenerational. But we can start to understand them simply by looking around our own table. What attention are we giving to healing ourselves? How is this personal growth improving our relationships and bringing light to the lives of the people we interact with on a daily basis? If we can begin to focus on such a small radius as that, the seismic, positive contributions we strive to make will be set in motion.
May we all be blessed with a healthy, meaningful year. May we be protected, guided and delivered to peaceful days. May the world and all its inhabitants be spared of pain and suffering. May we discover healing in our hearts and homes, and initiate a powerful wave of love to all mankind. May we come to know our oneness, and may this be reflected with improvements for all life. May we learn to be quiet and to hear the guidance of the heart we need.
With the deepest love and blessings for a richly sweet 5778,
and with prayers for the people of Mexico.
Shana tova u’metuka