Rabbi Danny Rich
Senior Rabbi & Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism
The Days of Awe, commencing with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur, are represented by our tradition as a very serious time indeed, a period during which our deeds are weighed in the balance and a decision is taken as to whether we may be confirmed in the Book of Life.
Only one thing can mitigate or annul the severity of the judgement against us and see us confirmed in the Book of Life, and that is teshuvah, repentance.
How do we ‘make repentance’? Well, certainly not by simply rolling up at the shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, reciting some prayers, afflicting ourselves a wee bit and then going home and picking up just where we left off before they started.
To make real teshuvah, to be able truly to make a new beginning in a new year we have to be prepared. We have to have set aside time for reflection and introspection, for appreciation of everything that is right about our lives and an awareness of everything that is wrong about them.
Now I do not want you to stay at home or leave the shul this evening and feel that because you have done the preparation you may give up now! Yet we can confess: ‘We did not do all of the preparation we could, or should, have’ and this confession is the beginning of the preparation.
Once again the Rabbis understood how difficult this all is, and in a metaphorical midrashic vision declared: “The Holy One, ever to be praised, says to Israel: Open for me one gate of repentance by as little as the point of a needle, and I will open for you gates wide enough for carriages and coaches to pass through.”
Even when we feel most unprepared, most alone we can discover that the community and God can make the task a little easier. My rabbinic colleagues and your fellow congregants look forward to seeing you both on Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur and then for Shabbat and the joy of Sukkot.
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