Are You Ready? 5778

Are you ready?

For the past several weeks, particularly during the Hebrew month of Elul, each one of us is obligated – yes, obligated – to search our souls, to actively identify those faults in our behavior and to do our best to correct those faults.

Have we actually done that, or have we become so busy with our everyday lives that correcting flaws in our behavior has fallen through the cracks?

For a rabbi, even one who lives and works in a retirement community, the preparations leading up to the Days of Awe really do become all-encompassing, even overwhelming.

So, for me, I admit that trying to become a better human being by addressing my character missteps has been sidestepped when I am dealing with the real-world issues of having our physical room assignment vanish because of an elevator shutdown and no viable options for our little congregation of Beit HaLev anywhere on campus.

Then there is our Aron Kodesh, the Ark where our beautiful Sefer Torah is to be housed. The need for a place to hold services has been dealt with – albeit under questionable status with the governance of our community.

Although our High Holidays can be held in this “new” location, the third issue is the street location itself, which is presently torn up and the timeline for completion of the street project may not be completed before Rosh Hashanah begins. Therefore, parking will simply be non-existent.

At some point, this rabbi-cantor needs to write some sermons, practice the music, because Judaism subsists on music.

Were you to ask me the question I asked you at the beginning of this, “Are you ready?”, I would have to say, “No, I am not.”

Rosh Hashanah. It literally means “Head of the Year.” Its place in the Days of Awe is considered Judgment Day. It is the day on which the fate of our souls are judged and found . . . well, what? Our souls’ fate is inscribed either into the Book of Life or the Book of Death.

If, as our sages indicate, this Day of Judgment was literally a court, Rosh Hashanah is the day we are sentenced to either live another year or – die.

Are you ready? Are you ready to be sentenced?

Wait a minute! Sentenced? We haven’t had a trial yet, have we?

Actually, yes, we have had our trial. Our trial took all year.

Last year we pledged to do better. We admitted we had done things we shouldn’t have. We made promises we didn’t keep, we showed anger when we should have shown compassion, etc., etc. etc.

And then we were supposed to prepare our souls for this Day of Judgment and what did we do?

But wait! We have another chance to make things right. This entire period, these High Holidays are designed to give us the opportunity to fix ourselves.

We have to make things right with our Creator, and we do that by asking for forgiveness for those spiritual mistakes we have made.

But making things right with HaShem is not enough. We must also make things right with our fellow human beings, because that’s really why we are here in the first place. These Holy Days are celebrated every year so that we cannot only make changes in our spiritual selves, but also in our own families and communities.

Are you ready?

L’Shanah Tovah!

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