Each holiday has it’s own flavor. Rosh Hashana has always been one of my favorites. It’s not exclusively the taste of apples and honey on my tongue but the spiritual taste of the holiday.
Throughout the entire month of Elul I did what many Jews do is taking accounting of the past year. Questions to ask: What did I want to change about myself, my goals for the new year, what do I want to do differently? During this month of self-reflection I felt unsettled. Feeling bombarded with technology, modern living, and things moving too quickly I felt disconnected from the past and uncertain about the future. I wanted to ‘taste’ the holiday but it was eluding me. I tried to bring up past memories of holidays past to see if that would help.
Two crystal clear memories of shuls (synogogues) from my past entered my consciousness. One was of a room in the shul I attended as a child. I don’t know an official name to that room, but I called it “the plaque room”. Inside had all the names of deceased congregants on small metal plaques with a little light bulb next to each name. The bulb was turned on for the person’s yahrtzeit and on high holidays. That room always fascinated me and always had a holy feel to it.
A second shul that came to mind during this introspection was that of my paternal grandparents located in an old Chicago neighborhood. I remember the dark hard wood of the chairs and the bimah, elderly congregants, the grandeur of the high ceilings and holiness of the sanctuary. Every year my grandfather blew the shofar. After his passing, I was blessed to inherit the shofar.
These two memories of the past and doing some journal writing helped bring clarity to my swirling thoughts. I concluded I have a few mental items to declutter and a list of to-dos for the new year. A wise friend also gave me some practical advise. She said if someone hurt you or annoyed you to give them a bracha (a blessing). A novel concept for me as I would rather stew in the negative feelings. It took a lot of effort to try out this advise but it worked! I went into Rosh Hashana with these two memories of past, and hopes for a sweet future.
A guest at one of our meals asked if we had a shofar. (Sure, I always have a shofar on hand…) but I bet you can guess the answer. I had my grandfather’s! That shofar got resurrected from it’s display status in the breakfront and I’m pretty sure those blasts rocked the heavens. Past, present, and future became clear in that instant. Any residual unsettled feeling from Elul dissipated.
Wishing everyone a Shana Tova. Gmar chatima tova “may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
September 16, 2018