Sunday, September 20, 2009

Some Words for Rosh HaShana

September 18, 2009
א בתשרי, תש"ע ראש השנה א

Modeh Ani Lefaneicha, Melekh chai v’Kayam. I bow before you, my living King, in gratitude of your returning my soul to me.

This prayer is usually recited once daily. Upon awakening in the morning, we thank G-d for being alive to live yet another day in this wonderful world that He created for us. For the last twenty months, I find myself uttering this prayer more than once daily; sometimes even numerous times in any given hour.

On this Shabbat, on This Rosh HaShana, as we gather here, some of us meeting for the first time, as a new Kehillah. As a new Community. A Community dedicated to Tikun Olam, to repairing the world, one Mitzvah at a time; One Commandment at a time; One Act of Loving Kindness at a time. A Community dedicated to each other. A Community in which we may live, laugh, love and pray, as one.
We continue to remember that this amazing, this incredible world was created by HaShem, in six days, and on the seventh day, G-d rested from all his work which he had made, and He hallowed that day, and He sanctified it as a day of rest, because on the seventh day, G-d rested.

As many of you know, I am a card-carrying, died in the wool, certified Shabbat-a-holic. I love everything about Shabbat. I love the smells of Shabbat; I love the songs on Shabbat; I love the Shabbat table guests, and the chicken soup; the matzo balls and the Tzimis; the longer Birkat haMazon and the Zmiros afterward, sitting long into late in the night with my kids. I love my 3rd graders on Friday afternoon most of all. Just when the week appears to have eaten me up, they pick me up and with their little eight year old voices and smiles, bring Shabbat to me. Right into my heart, not that I couldn’t find Shabbat by myself, but they help start bringing in Shabbat on… On Thursday morning.

On this Shabbat, I hope that we are able to, all of us, become Shabbat-a-holics. On this Rosh HaShana, I hope that as a Community, we are able to come together as only a Community can, and for the next ten days, at least, remember the little things that third graders still find so amazing. Whether it is a bird flying high up above, or an insect disappearing into the ground below; whether it be the blowing wind or the wetness of the rain or the warmth from just standing in the sun. These things, all things amazing to them, used to be amazing to us. In truth, we used to be them.

Two years ago, exactly tonight on the Jewish calendar, I was not thanking G-d for being alive. I had even asked him to not allow me to wake up a week before and five days later, he honoured my wish and two days later, took me for a little ride. For two months.

While my family spent their time praying for my improbable return, they also prepared themselves for the certainty of new lives and new beginnings without a husband, without a father; without a son and without a brother, I spent the 10 Yemei Teshuvah, the ten Days of Atonement, feeling that I was at the bottom of a box, a box with wet dirt walls, and prayed. And cried. And prayed some more. I spent my ten days of Teshuvah doing mamash, Teshuvah. In the end, after more than sixty days, G-d did in fact, return my soul to me.

Tonight, I recall that time spent at the bottom of the box, even though the memory is faint. I share the memory with you as not just your Rabbi, but as your friend, and ask that together, over the next ten days, we find ways to do more Teshuvah. That together, we find ways to return. To return not only to our heritage and beliefs, but that together, we as G-d to return to us our souls, and return to us the faith and the hope; the belief; the emuna, that we can help repair this earth that G-d so beautifully created 5,770 years ago today.

I try again and again to think of what creation might have been. I try to imagine viewing creation on a large IMAX screen; Dolby Digital Surround Sound:

A flash of light; The wind blowing and waves of water spread over this globe of nothing; A sky forming above, blue in colour and of grandiose expanse; Land forming from under the water and separating the oceans, Continent by Continent. All the while, beautiful classical violins and wind instruments play never-before-heard music in the background, while G-d does his work. Seedlings of grass, and trees and fruit; vegetation and bright green earth; Flowers of all kinds in all coulours followed by stars in the sky; the sun and the moon and the formation of moving time, all just exactly according to G-d's divine plan.

I try again and again to imagine if this is what it was really like. I try again and again in my mind, to rebuke science and non-believing spokespersons who wish to convince me (us) that this could have ever been; that a "big bang" took place Gazillions of years ago and that everything that we see somehow came from that. Maybe the "big bang" was G-d's creation of light? Honestly, I believe the Book of Bereishit. It's easier; It's more spiritual; It's more believable, to me anyway.

I believe that G-d caused the world to flood and that Noah saved living creatures as he was to asked to do by G-d; That G-d had a Covenant with Abraham and that today we continue to live by that covenant; That we all received Torah at Sinai; and that the world is based on three things, Torah, Avodah (service to G-d) and Gemilut Chassidim, acts of loving kindness. I believe that together, as a Community, we can do Tikkun Olam, we can fix and change the world simply by being good, nice and honest people.

Modeh Ani Lefaneicha, Melekh chai v’Kayam. I bow before you, my living King, in gratitude of your returning my soul to me, and thank you every minute of every day for continuing to grant me life, and I thank you G-d for showing me your trust in allowing our new Community to be here together these Days of Awe in hopes of becoming closer to you, and to G-d.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tovah.

Rabbi Alan Abrams

*** Should any of you be in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area for Yom Kippur and wish to observe Yom Kippur with us, please let us know as soon as possible.***


  1. I willl be starting a new beginning in my own place this New Year where I can work on getting the 501(c)3 accreditation for my NPO called International Disabled Entrepreneurs,Inc. The purose of this NPO is to teach people with disabilities the skills they need to have their own business, provide resources, and low interest loans.

    I grew up in an era when people with disabilities had few opportunities for an education or employment. As a child growing up in a dysfunctional family where there was a lot of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse--I would always question "Why Me?" Eventually I began to realize that G-d had a purpose for me, my struggles led to this road.

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    and you can also make a donation to my organization.

    Davida Shensky, President
    Career Performance Institute
    Founder of IDE, Inc.