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Sailing into the New Year

Rabbi Shapiro wrote these words for a congregational e-mail on Friday, August 27, 2010.  The e-mail corresponded with the 17th of the Hebrew month Elul.  This placed the mailing a day or two after the full moon.

Have you seen the moon lately?

Look up if the sky is clear over the next few nights and you’ll see something amazing.  You’ll see the full moon of this Hebrew month Elul waning.  During these next two weeks it is going to diminish in size until just after Labor Day the moon will disappear in the sky. One night later – Wednesday night, September 8 – it will reappear.  The moon will hang up there in the sky as a tiny crescent.

And when that happens, you’ll know we’ve arrived at the beginning of a new month.  In this case, it will be the beginning of Tishri and the beginning of a new year.

I love to tell time by the moon. 

Especially at this time of year I feel as if that silent globe up in the sky is gently guiding me into Rosh Hashanah.  It’s like a beacon nodding at me and reminding me that the biggest days of our Jewish year are drawing closer and closer.

Imagine a sailboat.  Imagine that we are all slowly approaching the shore.  We are coming home and, when Rosh Hashanah arrives, we will be home.  We’ll be back to see each other; we’ll be back in the familiarity of our Temple; we’ll be back to spend some time with our prayers, our souls, and God. 

I know there is a frenzy around holiday time at the Temple.  If nothing else, you have to find a parking spot and then hope to find a decent seat amidst the big crowds.  It’s easy to forget what we are all about.  Easy to forget in the pressure of the moment that the holidays are not meant to be a source of anxiety.  They are meant to be a time for reflection and renewal. 

The themes are serious.  We are talking about our failings and mistakes, but we are doing so amidst community.  We are doing so, I believe, in the safety of the harbor. Quiet time.  Ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur for thinking great thoughts about what we might like ourselves to be in the year ahead.

Soon enough, we’ll push out to sea.  We’ll be back to regular time.
But, for at least a moment, we’re at home.  We’re where we need to be.
Watch the moon.  Enjoy the voyage home. 
And for today – Friday – Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Shapiro

 

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