Rabbi Sandra Kviat
High Holy Days 5777
Ever since I first heard about Lionel Blue, I’ve been a fan. His words stir something in me that many other texts cannot. I think it comes from his very down-to-earth approach to life and Judaism, and his honesty about his own failings. One of my favourite High Holy Days pieces is a reading by him, found towards the end of the Neilah (closing) service on Yom Kippur.
He manages to cover most of all the important issues that comes up during the long days of prayer and reflection; our own responsibility, lack of self-knowledge, focusing on the wrong things, and struggling with our relationship to God. For me there’s a helpful message for the ten days of reflection and indeed for Yom Kippur itself towards the end of the piece – the ability and the need to be still. ‘Therefore I shall try and be still, and in the stillness wait patiently for You to find me’.
Finding stillness, or even just finding time for stillness is not easy, but it is essential for the Days of Awe. This text reminds me to try and create a space for being still once a day for the ten days, and perhaps even for the rest of the year.
Lionel Blue in Machzor Ruach Chadashah (page 410)
God, I do not want to pester or repeat again or chant my list of sins once more. You knew the list before this day began. I recited them more for myself than for You. In fact, You know those which are still unknown to me, sins which I hid from myself or was too stupid to see.
I confess that I have been responsible for much that went wrong. I tried to get more out of life than I was willing to put into it. I never learnt to ask the right question. I’d not say: ‘What can I give life?’ but ‘What can life give me?’. Perhaps I cheated others. I certainly cheated myself of many things I could have had – friendship, love and self-respect.
I confess that a lot of my troubles came because I did not want to know the truths about myself for my life. I tried to buy what cannot be bought. I looked for permanence in passing things. I followed the crowd because I did not have the courage to stand alone.
And I also confess that I let my knowledge of You fade away. Many hopes and visions died because I did not trust them, though they were signs of your presence in my life.
I have stumbled through so many prayers today, and uttered so many words that I have lost touch with much of their meaning. I am bewildered by their certainties and their demands, let this confession at least be true and be my own prayer.
I am too small to reach You and You are too great for me to comprehend. Therefore I shall try and be still, and in the stillness wait patiently for You to find me. You are so great, You can bend down to me and the distance between us, which my mind could not cover, Your love can bridge.
Forgive me, pardon me, and grant me atonement.
More sermons & pieces about the High Holy Days
[Sermon] Death, Time and Desert Island Discs13 October 2019 – 14 Tishri 5780
[Sermon] We have a choice13 October 2019 – 14 Tishri 5780
[Sermon] Belonging and connecting, sharing and repairing12 October 2019 – 13 Tishri 5780
[Sermon] Why be a Jew?12 October 2019 – 13 Tishri 5780
More HHD Pieces
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