Leonard Cohen – ‘Who by fire’ (Live in London) from Daniel Gafitescu
To all my readers, I wish you a happy New Year. As we say in Hebrew: shana tova u’metuka (“a good and sweet new year”). We say this phrase dipping the new apples of the season into honey and savoring the taste of what we hope for in the new year.
Of course, not all is sunny in the High Holiday liturgy. Those old enough to remember the wonderful Leonard Cohen song, Who by Fire, derived from the somber U’Ntaneh Tokef prayer, will know that those of us joining synagogue communities in this season will be anticipating God’s judgment in the coming year for good or ill. This especially brings to mind the possibility that there may be war.
One important theme of the High Holiday liturgy is brought forth by Cohen’s lyric:
Who shall I say is calling?
In other words: accountability. God demands that we be accountable for our actions and for the times when we’ve missed the mark. He demands that we views ourselves humbly and not grandly. These are all qualities lost on many in Israel’s leadership. The laws of teshuva say that you always have to make allowance for the sinner to repent his misdeeds. It’s hard to imagine this can happen to this crop of political leaders. But let’s remain hopeful shall we?
As I grow older, it seems there is less and less to be joyful and hopeful about in the world. But let’s not lose faith. For there are moments of lucidity and breakthrough. The Arab Spring was one such. One can always hope that such a movement will have a similar impact, if not now then eventually, within Israel itself.
Regardless of what happens in the Middle East, I wish you, your families and friends a year of joy, peace and fulfillment.
In past years, I’ve written several posts especially appropriate for this season. I commend them to you.