Rabbi Todd Thalblum
Shana Tova Everyone,
It’s hard to believe but another year has already come and gone. We have, once again, returned to the High Holy Days to appear before God and ask for forgiveness. On Yom Kippur we will reread the section of Torah known as Parshat Nitzavim. This portion retells the momentous event at Mount Sinai. “Atem nitzavim,” we read, “You stand here this day (the day that we received the Ten Commandments), all of you, before God.”
Rabbi Joseph Edelheit has a rather unique interpretation for why we find ourselves “standing” at this time of year. He writes, “[At this time of year, we] 'stand' ready-to move into a new Jewish year. We, 'stand' as an entire people prepared to reaffirm our covenantal relationship with God and each other. We must not merely 'stand around' waiting but rather use this sacred time to “take a stand” on the religious fundamentals that have always defined our destiny, and to heed the warning that when we turn away from our identity we choose the curse over the blessing.
"It is hard to 'stand still'; we become distracted and look around, shifting back and forth on our feet. We find it uncomfortable to so restrict ourselves. . . It requires a strong act of will to overcome this inability and stop moving long enough to allow oneself to be in the presence of God. If we accomplish nothing else before the Days of Awe than learning to 'stand still,' we will yet have established the spiritual foundation for making our ultimate choices. We must find the strength and wisdom to 'stand still' in a world that moves faster and faster."
Perhaps we can all learn something from the wisdom of Rabbi Edelheit. The High Holy Days will come and go as quickly as the past year if we aren't able to slow down and pay attention to what is going on around us. The meaning of these days won't sink in or remain with us if we can’t stand still and focus on our tasks of repentance and prayer.
May we each find the strength to stop and stand still as we approach God this coming month. May our prayers be answered and our repentance successful. May we find the forgiveness we seek and the connection to God, Judaism, and Community that we need. May we all be inscribed for Life.
I wish you all a happy, healthy, and meaningful New Year.
Shana Tova U'metukah,