Rosh Hashana 5778
Dear Rabbi: If I were to focus on one thing on Rosh Hashana, what do you suggest it should be? (signed)
Why limit it to one thing? But since you ask, be aware that King David used that exact term, in the special Psalm (27) which we recite during these days: “Achas sho’alti” – “one thing I have asked of the Lord, this I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of the Lord, and to visit His Sanctuary.”
What does that mean in relevant, contemporary terms?
Beyond all the complexity of life, beyond all our jaded experiences, beyond all the clutter and noise, we each have within our souls a very quiet place – a soft and gentle voice. This is who you are at your purest core. This is what you looked like when you were a newborn child.
And this is the place we return to every Rosh Hashana, when we celebrate the collective birthday of the human race. On this day 5778 years ago, a Divine breath, for the very first time, infused life into a pile of dust from the earth, creating the human being. We are part dust, part spirit – a body and a soul.
On this day each year we return to our origins: Not the dust part, but the spirit – the dimensions that makes us uniquely human.
And what does this spirit look and feel like? It is the part in you that has not been polluted by life experiences.
This is the one thing David asked for. “I seek,” he declared, “that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of the Lord, and to visit His Sanctuary.”
In a hostile world, with many trials and tribulations, I seek a pure and peaceful place – to dwell in, to behold and to visit.
Even today when the Holy Temple no longer stands, we each still have within our hearts and souls a pure place that houses the Divine, where we can dwell and find comfort; a beautiful core whose pleasantness we can behold; an inner sanctum which we can regularly visit.
If you are looking to define one thing to focus on Rosh Hashana, ask yourself:
What do you seek?
Sadly most of us are distracted with the struggle for survival, the pursuit of material needs, the immediate challenges that each of us face. Rosh Hashana, especially during the Shofar blowing (this year on Sunday), put all that aside.
As we solemnly recite the verses in preparation for the Shofar blowing, allow the words to carry you away on their wings.
As the haunting Shofar begins to sound, imagine that this the simple cry of your soul, reaching out, yearning, beckoning.
Close your eyes. Take your mind, heart and presence to another place – to who you truly are beneath it all: “achas sho’alti” – seek out the single most important thing of all – your essence.
If you were to ask for one thing, “achas sho’alti,” ask for this: That your core purity should surface. That you should have the ability to dwell in and be embraced by its warm arms, all the day of your life. That you should sense with awe and behold its beauty. And that you should visit even the dimensions that transcend your soul.
May you be blessed with a healthy, wholesome, loving and inspiring year, with success in all your endeavors and on all levels, materially and spiritually.
May you see all your experiences as stepping-stones to reach greater horizons. May you only have joy and happiness, and even in moments of uncertainty, may you learn to grow greater through them.
May you have the ability to swim the waters, but always remain above the waves.
On behalf of myself and the wonderful staff of the Meaningful Life Center, I wish you many warm blessings for the New Year.
Photo by Mike Boening Photography/Flickr.