In the New Year 5784

In the New Year 5784

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

On Rosh Hashanah, we’ll greet each other with wishes for a Happy New Year. It’s a time filled with hopeful expectations that a new beginning will be fresh and sweet. Often times, the New Year is, indeed, fresh and sweet. It’s as our rabbis taught, “Live each day as if it were your last.” It wasn’t meant to encourage wastefulness; rather it was meant to urge us to do a mitzvah, a worthwhile deed, every day. Then we would be assured that if anything happened to us, God forbid, our life would be accounted for praise and good deeds. Sometimes, the New Year isn’t as fresh and sweet as we hoped. All the more reason to live with deep gratitude for what we have and what we can still do. Being human isn’t easy; it can be a trial that we face with humility, patience, and gratitude.

The High Holy Days are a meaningful time to look deeply into this trio of human effects. Humility is not the same as humiliation; humility is about reorienting ourselves to the world in proportion to our G-d, while remaining entirely human, at our best. Rabbi Schachtel wrote, “Faith enables us to differentiate between being small yet meaningfully related to the Divine.”

Patience doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting; it means taking the time that each day’s moments deserve. With full breaths, sincere deeds, and meaningful work, our goals can be reached. And even when they’re not easily achieved, our efforts teach us about our strides and what more we can do to refine our goals. Personally, I subscribe to “patience and persistence,” to find the right pace to reach important outcomes.

Gratitude isn’t about thanking everyone for what they do. Gratitude is about living with a sense of appreciation and respect for that which we have, what we can do, and what we observe around us. Gratitude enables us to know greater patience and humility, too; it takes time and self-restraint to wait for efforts to bloom and flourish.

As we near the High Holy Days and the sweet beginning that comes with Rosh Hashanah, please look forward to beautiful worship services. Music, prayers, personal reflection, and timely messages will prepare us for the season of repentance and the New Year. Here are the sermon topics that I’ll address on Rosh Hashanah:

Erev Rosh Hashanah, “The Way of Humanity in Urgent Times,” will draw on great Jewish teachings to discover our essential selves.

Rosh Hashanah Day, “When AI (Artificial Intelligence) Reads the Torah,” will address the role that AI is playing in our lives, and how Jews and Judaism can teach AI enduring lessons for our future.

I look forward to welcoming you and your family to Congregation Beth Israel. May we all know the blessing of this season. May the sounds of the Shofar compel us on our life’s path and its meaning.           

L’Shanah Tovah Tikateivu, May you and yours be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.

In the New Year 5784 3