6 TISHREI 5780 / 5 OCTOBER 2019
Coming out of Rosh Hashanah and moving into Yom Kippur, we are in a state of Teshuvah.This Shabbat is Shabbat Shuvah.Shuvah means to turn / time of turning. And yes we are aware that as we turn to G-d, we are seen by both Heaven and Earth – both bear witness to our time of teshuvah.This time though I want to focus on a different interpretation of Shuvah.Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that: “Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven”. The entire chapter is dedicated to teaching us about how Life turns, that there is an appointed season for everything. Everything that G-d has made, has been made forever. We cannot add or subtract from it. (Ecc 3:14). Everything that has been made, has been made beautiful “in it’s time”. (Ecc 3:11).This time of teshuvah, during these 10 days of repentance, we call to memory all that has happened, and we seek and entreat G-d to turn towards us. We yearn for Chesed, our hearts cry out that we will be forgiven and inscribed for Life.And so this is also a time to remember that in the year to come, the wheel of Life will turn – there will be a time to give birth, a time to die, times to plant, times to uproot, times to weep and times to laugh. And each thing, every matter has a season that’s been appointed to it. During the High Holiday service, we recite a special prayer written by Rabbi Amnon called U’netanneh Tokeff – where our lives are cataloged and some may feel the notion of Bechira is challenged. And yet, we are told that in Dev 30:19, “Behold I have set before you Life and Death; choose Life”. Every event is written on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur – yes, however every event has been inscribed from before the foundation of the world was formed. The wheel of Life will turn – yes, however we are told that we will always have a choice – the choice between Life and Death. Life and Death – by whose definition one may ask – in my heart I know that this is by the Creator’s definition because the one thing we as sinful, mortal beings are not given to understand is the end-to-end picture of Life.We see Life frame by frame, snapshots in time and space. Everything has been made beautiful “in it’s time”, and that’s also what I’m trying to understand this Shabbat Shuvah – I’m trying to make peace in my heart that the year ahead is just a tiny cog in the unfathomable giant Wheel of Creation. And that at each moment, every breath, every heartbeat, every thought and every action has been inscribed – with the thought that I will always have a choice and with the hope that I will always choose Life.And so over the next few days, and the rest of 5780, I hope that the words from Devarim 31:6 carry us through, where Moses says, “Be strong and courageous. Neither fear nor be dismayed by them, for the Lord, your G-d, He is the One Who goes with you. He will neither fail you, nor forsake you”. Shabbat Shalom G’mar Chatimah Tovah.