Those attending Selichot discussions last Saturday night had the opportunity to grapple with hard questions. Rabbis drew existential lines, personal and collective, and attendants were forced to dig deep.
“If we could keep one thing from 5773, what would it be?” “If we could get rid of something from 5773, what would it be?” In one group, a rabbi placed the need for hope front and center. In this world, many responded, hope is nowhere to be found.
The New Year 5774 is here. Jews celebrate their father and king. Minds, hearts and souls focus on the Torah. Liturgy lifts us high. We get lost in prayers, and remember those who are lost to us.
Too often humanity forgets how to behave — nations, couples, parents, teenagers, employees and employers. Perhaps the Days of Awe that follow Rosh Hashanah and culminate on Yom Kippur will remind us to be kind. Whether we will then retain this teshuva is up to us.
Peace is fundamental to Jewish aspirations, especially in a world fractured by violence. Change and the hunger for hope are equally vital. But like the questions that encircle us on Selichot, where do we find the answers?
Mahatma Gandhi, the embodiment of hope and change, said this:
The problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself is that you will still be you when you reach the change you have strived for. You will still have your flaws, anger, negativity, self-sabotaging tendencies, etc., intact.
As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world . . . as in being able to remake ourselves.
You must be the change you want to see in the world.
It’s a New Year. We must be the change we long for in 5774. Then, and only then, we might see something truly beautiful.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News