This week, we celebrated the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah–the New Year (5782, in case you’re counting.
There are many traditions associated with this holiday–including eating things made with apples and honey to bring about a sweet new year.
One of the prayers, the Unetaneh Tokef, is particularly meaningful this year:
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
Who by famine and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake and who by plague…
In the last 18 months, we’ve seen mostly everything on this list: hurricanes and floods, wildfires, droughts, earthquakes, and COVID. Maybe wild beasts are next?
But it’s the last line of the poem that is most powerful: We have the ability to avert the severe decree by changing our behavior.
We have a choice. We can see everything that’s happened the past few years as out of our control. Or, we can see that there are things we can do to mitigate these circumstances. This might be vaccines and masks in the case of COVID, or actions to address the impact of climate change and lessen the impact of droughts, famine, fires, and floods.
The message is that we can make a difference in the world–today can be the start of something new.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous, and safe year ahead–a year in which we each take action to heal the world.
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