High Holy Days Inverted
The popular way of understanding Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur may have it backwards. Typically, we think of Rosh HaShanah as a joyful New Year’s Day with apples and honey and feasting. Typically, we think of Yom Kippur as a solemn day to fast and reflect on sin and death.
The opposite, however, may be more true. Rosh HaShanah is the day of the Shofar blasts, calling us to account, calling us to judge ourselves. Rosh HaShanah is the day we stand in awe before God’s world and pray for more life “ki ein banu maasim” – even though “our deeds have little merit.” Yom Kippur, however, is a day when we experience God’s nearness and God’s compassion. Yom Kippur is when God receives us and our thin prayers with love and grants us another chance.
So perhaps Rosh HaShanah is the more imposing and daunting day; and Yom Kippur is the day abounding in love and connection.
Both holy days and the days in between,
demand our full attention and best intentions.
Both require truth-telling.
Both are life-affirming.
May both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur uplift our weary spirits.
May both Yom Kippur and Rosh HaShanah anchor us in Jewish tradition and Jewish wisdom.
May these High Holy Days deepen our inner-most prayers (and God knows, there are many this year).
May these Days of Awe strengthen the ties which bind us together.
I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and L’Shanah Tovah.
May it be a year of goodness, life, and God’s blessing.