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Nitzavim - Vayelech 5780 ~ Sept. 11, 2020

Believe it or not, this is the last Shabbat of the Jewish year 5780. As the month of Elul comes to a close and the new month of Tishrei is just around the corner, we do not recite the traditional Birchat HaChodesh, the prayer for Blessing of the new month.  Rabbinic lore suggests that we want to confuse our accuser as to when Rosh Hashanah begins. In that way, that accusing angel will, hopefully, miscalculate the days. That faultfinder will then not be able to provide the details of the less than stellar moments we might have experienced during this past year to the One who writes in the Book of Chayim (life.) Secondly, many of us will be in shul to petition for that blessing on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Finally, on Saturday evening, we will join together as a community to usher in the High Holy Day Season, during the Selichot services. Our prayers for a month and a year of blessing will take on a greater significance at that time.

As Rosh Hashanah quickly approaches what are the sights and sounds that come to your mind?

1) the taste of the apples and honey

2) the sight of round raisin challah

3) hearing the words of the kiddush

4) the sound of the shofar

We all come with special hopes and dreams, personal worries and concerns.

We all begin to think about the year ahead. What will it bring our way:

A year of life

A year of happiness

A year of success

A year of goodness

A year of sadness

A year of tragedy

A year of failure

A year where a  safe vaccine has been found

A year where we can once again safely visit our friends and family

Would it be that we would be able to know the future, would we live our lives any differently? Would we live them in a more complete way? Would we waste time on pettiness? Would we express our lives in a different way? Would we be kinder? Would we be gentler? The Torah states in this week’s reading: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life.” We have lived through a year where we have learned a new set of values of what is important and what is not,  and how we might choose to live life differently.

In one of my files from years ago I found the following letter printed in an Ann Landers column. I believe that it expresses a most wonderful challenge for us all as we contemplate the new year ahead:

Just for today -- I will live through the next 12 hours and not try to tackle all of life's problems at once.

Just for today -- I will improve my mind. I will learn something useful. I will read something that requires thought and concentration.

Just for today -- I will be agreeable. I will look my best, speak in a well-modulated voice, be courteous and considerate.

Just for today -- I will not find fault with friend , relative or colleague. I will not try to change or improve anyone but myself.

Just for today -- I will do a good turn and keep it a secret. If anyone finds out, it won't count.

Just for today -- I will have a program. I might not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two enemies -- hurry and indecision.

Just for today -- I will do two things, I don't want to do, just because I need the discipline.

Just for today -- I will believe in myself. I will give my best to the world and feel confident that the world will give its best to me.

As we usher in the High Holy Day season this Saturday evening, may we find the means to find the blessings in our lives from this past year. G-d knows, the challenges always seem to stare at us.  While we may recite the first set of Ashamnus, acknowledging our missteps, at our Selichot services, may we use them as a guide for the positives in our lives in the New Year.

Shabbat shalom.

Rabbi K

Sat, June 25 2022 26 Sivan 5782