Posted by: jdiscover | August 20, 2010

High Holy Days: What Are They About?


Every year, during this season, I find myself telling the same story. Although it is a story I share with others, it is really a story I need to tell myself. It is a story that reminds me what this High Holy Day time is all about.

Two construction workers have lunch together every day. Every time they open their lunch boxes one of them says; “Oh no, not peanut butter, again!” After weeks of hearing her friend complain about peanut butter, the other worker says; “If you don’t like peanut butter tell your husband to make something else.” “My husband?” responds the complainer, “I have no husband – I make my own sandwiches!”

We all make ‘sandwiches’ we don’t like. We may have liked them once, but now, not so much. But change; change is difficult. We all make ‘sandwiches’ that others in our life don’t appreciate, but change; we might not even know that the ‘sandwich’ is not welcome. And besides, it was good enough before. Change? No thanks!

Welcome to the season of change! The High Holy Day season is a time for t’shuvah. T’shuvah is often translated as repentance, but t’shuvah is not just for the big sins. Others focus on the literal meaning and translate t’shuvah as turning or returning. I suggest that it simply means; change. Positive change, or in a word – growth. Change that comes about through meaningful self reflection, the invited positive criticism of others and the decision to and act of change.

How are we to know what changes we need to make? First, we look inward asking ourselves; “What is the ‘peanut butter’ in my life? What am I doing now that was once comfortable and tasty but is now no longer nourishing or sustainable?” Second, we turn to others in our lives, those we are closest to, and ask for forgiveness and feedback. We ask those who love us how they think we should change and grow; “what nourishment do they need from us?”

Then we take all that information and chart a course for change, for self improvement and for growth – for t’shuvah. Each year we repeat the cycle – “that’s what it’s all about!”

Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi David Rose

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