Posted by: jdiscover | August 27, 2010


In English we usually refer to the upcoming sacred days in the Jewish calendar as the High Holidays or as I prefer, emphasizing the sacred nature of this time, the High Holy Days. In Hebrew we call this period of reflection and renewal, Yamim Norraim, the Days of Awe.  Awe? Whatever happened to awe?

Yes, we all, some more than others, say ‘awesome’, when something surprising is experienced, but awe? In earlier times, when the workings of nature were beyond all human understanding awe was a common occurrence. But for us, who can ‘Google it’, for us ‘Know-it-alls’, can we experience awe?

I certainly hope so! Without awe, what Abraham Joshua Heschel called ‘radical amazement’ there is no humility, no new knowledge, no searching for meaning, no insight, no prayer and no unconditional love. “The deeper we search,” wrote Heschel, “the nearer we arrive at knowing that we do not know. What do we truly know about life and death, about the soul or society?”

The coming Holy Days are about nurturing our sense of awe – our very appreciation for living. When we stand before the open ark and ponder; “Who shall live and who shall die?” We are reminded that living with ultimate mystery, with awe, means living fully, purposively and to the best of our abilities.

Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi David Rose


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