As Rosh Hashanah comes barreling down upon us “early” this year, we are reminded that life does not wait for our convenience. Judaism is complete with steady reminders of reality, and opportunities to get a better grip on our fleeting moments on earth. The sun is setting: it is time for Shabbat to begin. The stars are not yet out: let Shabbat linger a bit longer.
The world pulls us in so many directions that we often feel that life is out of our control. Our involvements and hopes drive us to fill our days with commitments that diminish our freedom. Judaism – God, Torah and Israel – offers a life of meaning, and tools to expect the unexpected.
The sorrow of death is confidently met with the funeral rites, shiva home and support during a time of kaddish. The joy of birth is transformed into entry into a live of covenant, the gift of a name’s legacy, and the gathering of friends and family. Early adulthood is challenged by the responsibility of synagogue leadership, Torah mastery and thoughtful teaching in a credible bar/bat mitzvah celebration. Daily minyan focuses our days into assertions that today is a gift, with a purpose, and the belief I have the time and will to pursue it.
And our religion gives us hope. Those who have gone before us are not gone forever, and life is more than it seems. We are given permission to believe the unbelievable and pray for eternal love.
Come be part of a loving synagogue this year. Learn to expect the unexpected, believe the unbelievable and live the life of meaning and purpose.
Rabbi Robert L. Tobin
B’nai Shalom, West Orange, NJ.