18/19 Sept: Shabbat & Rosh Hashanah Day 1: Starts 6:54pm, ends 7:53pm: Rosh Hashanah Day 2 ; ends 7.51 20 Sept:
Message to the Community
This time of year, I am often drawn to a favourite quote of mine, which feels truer this year than ever before. The quote is from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’:
‘Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering;
There is a crack, a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.’
This year, these words remind me of the first set of tablets of the Ten Sayings. These tablets were famously shattered by Moses upon finding the Israelites worshipping the golden calf. The Torah does not directly speak about the fate of the fragmented remains, but the Talmud draws forth from the text that they were stored in the ark of the covenant with the whole tablets. In this holiest of Jewish spaces, brokenness and wholeness sit next to one another. Our tradition does not shy away from brokenness; we consider it to be a holy part of the human experience.
May this be a sweet new year, filled with healing and love. May we joyfully ring the bells that still will ring, even (and especially) when our festivities are shifted from the usual. And may we be like Moses, lovingly collecting the broken shards along with the whole, and considering every moment holy.
So in terms of a punishment for the people of Noah’s time, the flood and the destruction of all living things does seem a bit extreme. One of my rabbis, Rabbi Brad Artson argues, that is exactly the point the Torah is trying to make.
Destruction, even when it comes from the God who is “slow to anger and abounding in kindness” bursts beyond any manageable or fair limitations. Even punishments, originally intended to be measured and reasonable, provoke unanticipated suffering and hardship.
Rabbi Paul Arberman.
Abraham Joshua Heschel believed that Adam’s sin was primarily in hiding from God and from himself. This is not, in Heschel’s eyes, an abstract idea; we all hide from God and from ourselves. Heschel expresses it thus in the third verse of his poem I and Thou:
” Often I glimpse Myself in everyone’s form,
hear My own speech – a distant, quiet voice – in people’s weeping,
as if under millions of masks My face would lie hidden. ”
Heschel is describing a personal experience in which he has hidden from himelf, his essence absorbed within society. His face is masked, hidden from view, making the idea to “know thyself” impossible.
I’m not sure why we hide from ourselves so well when we are young — or perhaps we just don’t take the time to think through who we are — but I can say definitively, that one of the great joys of getting older is the unmasking — getting to know yourself — what you actually enjoy or don’t enjoy doing.
Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman