We asked our Top Jew teachers and rabbis for a few inspirational thoughts to prepare us for the 5772 holiday season. Below are the highlights from some of their classic comments.. Visit http://www.jinsider.com for the full interviews. Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"By the time the holidays are over, maybe you've had a minute or five minutes or 30 seconds of something absolutely real and deep. All the hours invested are worth, in other words, the 30 seconds or the five seconds of something really, really deep -- with God, with the community, with the music, with the text, with my great grandparents, with Israel, with the language. There are a million possibilities where our connection may happen. And that moment of connection is worth the hours invested because if it's a real deep connection, there is nothing like it. It's huge. Our culture is a culture of immediate gratification: You want it and you want it now, with the least possible money and with the least possible effort. In the spiritual world, it doesn't really work like that. To get higher, you have to put in a little time and a little effort and you have to take the risk that it may not happen this time. We have to learn that these things take preparation, reading, thinking, coming and putting in the time."
-- Rabbi Roly Matalon is a spiritual and community leader at B'nai Jeshurun.
God the Banker
"Rosh Hashana is audit day. God checks the books to see how we took care of His investment in us. ... On this day God gives us the opportunity to face Him and report on our progress in fulfilling the Divine mission we were charged with. And we are given the power to renew our "contract" with God. Even if we feel uncomfortable with how little we have accomplished, there is nothing to fear. He doesn't look for perfection. He knows that He created imperfect human beings. He doesn't ask, "Why weren't you perfect?" He asks us only, "Why aren't you as much as you could have been?" The judgment of Rosh Hashana is thus really a great gift, God's vote of confidence in us that we can live up to our greatest potential."
-- Rabbi Simon Jacobson of the Meaningful Life Center and author of the invaluable "60 Days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holiday
Connecting to Higher Purpose
Rosh Hashanah's idea of judgment, on the deepest level means to be conscious that we are standing in front of the master of the universe and we are self-judging, asking ourselves, Who am I? And what have I done with my life? As the year is coming to a close, and the New Year is beginning, we look back, and honestly ask ourselves, what have I done? What have I achieved? Where have I excelled and where have i failed? On Yom Kippur, the internal question is one of identity, not merely what have i done, but who am I? The entire unfolding of the High Holiday season is to self-generate and ask ourselves these existential questions; who am I? And how can I ensure that my life is much larger than my ego?
-- Rabbi DovBer Pinson is a prolific author who just released for the High Holiday "Reclaiming the Self: On the Path of Teshuvah- A fascinating, profound and inspiring book opening us up to the possibility of real, inward transformation. Pinson offers unique holiday experience at his IYYUN Center (www. iyyun.com )
High Holy Days Prep: Elevating 5772
Learn the secrets to transform your High Holy Day experience. What are the deeper ways to approach this special time period and make your prayer truly meaningful? Let Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon and Rabbi DovBer Pinson, guide you along your way. Join them for an inspiring event. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and is part of the JCC open house and 10th anniversary kick-off celebration. Pre- register online or call 646-505-5708 to guarantee your space. Sunday, September 18, 6:30PM, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue:
Bring in 5772
In Manhattan: For a great way to kick off 5772, contact B'nai Jeshurun to attend its High Holy Days services. (www.bj.org). The services are brilliantly orchestrated with inspirational prayer and teachings built on a single theme. It is so popular three locations are required, including Lincoln Center and Symphony Space. Tickets are required.