HHD Reflection 5777 – Day 5

Alexandra Simonon
Lay leader and Liberal Judaism’s Lifecycle & Administration Manager

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, who blogs under the name The Velveteen Rabbi, often brings a new light, a new angle and a new joy to the way I read a weekly Torah portion.

She has great insights on the way we perform ritual too, and I felt changed by her comment, a few years ago, that the (not very Liberal) beating of one’s chest during the recitation of missteps is not to castigate ourselves but rather to knock gently on one’s heart, asking it to open.

The following lines, written in 2014, encapsulate beautifully the spirit of the High Holy Days: their spiritual intensity, their separateness, and a reminder that their transformative power can make us grow even after they’re over.

“So what does it mean to say that the ‘gates’ are open, or closing, or closed? Maybe the gates are our own. Maybe they are the gates of the season. Once we make it to the end of Sukkot, we will be spiritually worn-out from the intense emotions and intensive holiday journey of this time of year. We will need to close the door on this chapter and move into what’s coming. We can’t live all year in this state of heightened intensity. We are the ones who close the gates.

“The gates which are now open are the gates of our hearts and souls. What do we want to draw forth from ourselves as we move through these gates? When the time comes for us to close the gates on this season, who do we want to have become?”

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