Published in the July/August 2013 newsletter
The Holidays Are So Early This Year! (Or Are They?)
It’s hard to believe it, but even as you receive this summer newsletter, the High Holidays are right around the corner—Wednesday evening, September 4!
Yes, we have wonderful things planned for the summer: a dinner and discussion for Tisha B’Av, a musical Shabbat at Freedom Park, and a chance to ‘see’ Lebanon though the eyes of Bert Rosenheck, to name a few. We hope you will join us. (Details of these programs are elsewhere in the newsletter.)
At the same time, we are already working full steam ahead on the High Holidays, Life Long Learning, Adult Education, Shalom Yeladim, Religious School, social events and more, all for next year.
But, the holidays seem so early…
In one of his comedy routines, Jackie Mason has observed how Jews are always saying that the holidays are always either early or late—never on time. When they are on weekends, they leave us exhausted for the week. When they are on weekdays, they interfere with our ability to get anything done. When they occur in early September, who can fast so late on Yom Kippur? When they are in mid-October, who can get home in time for Kol Nidre?
The relatively unpredictable pattern of the Yamim Nora’im however, I believe, is a blessing and an opportunity. If they came on the same days on the American calendar each year, we would become complacent and the holidays would lose their urgency and meaning. This season is meant to shake us out of our usual patterns and force us to take a look at how we spend our time—especially the ruts in which we find ourselves.
The month of Elul (which starts August 7) begins a time for taking stock—taking stock of our actions and interactions. It reminds us to look with affection at the people around us, just as it asks us to take a critical look at our own lives. What have we done to elevate the spark of G-d within others and within ourselves? What opportunities have we gained and what opportunities have we missed ? Thinking in these terms cracks the veneer of the usual in our lives, and being asked to do this earlier one year, and later the next, gives added meaning to the ebb and flow to the timing of our lives.
Once we have begun to identify the good and the bad in our lives, we have the chance to act and react. The process is called teshuvah, or ‘turning.’ The result is forgiveness by those we have wronged—other people, G-d and ourselves.
Can that ever really be too early?
Rabbi David Nesson