At sunset on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, G-d** will remove some of his light from the world. He will still remain present in a basic way, of course, or the world could not sustain itself. But that presence will be remote, withdrawn.
Then He will wait. The next move is ours.
At around midday of the holy day, when Jews in every corner of the world acknowledge His sovereignty with prayers and the blowing of the shofar, G-d will once again agree to be our King. He will recommit to His relationship with our world. And when He does so, it will be with an entirely new level of light and power. Entirely new possibilities – possibilities that never existed before – will enter the world. We will advance one giant step closer to our ultimate destiny.
But the first move has to come from us. We must renew our contract with our Creator if the world is to continue to exist.
Once each year, the world must choose G-d.
Seeing Our Smallness: An Opening for Transformation
Kabbalah explains that everything that exists is made up of two polar opposites. The opposite of darkness is light. The opposite of evil is good. The opposite of death is life. The opposite of slavery is freedom. Wherever one is found, its opposite is present as well. They define each other, two sides of the same coin.
However, on the deepest level, the negative side has no intrinsic reality. Darkness is not a permanent condition. In fact, just like the first step in the throwing of a ball is to move one’s arm backwards, the darkness is actually a prelude to a far more powerful light.
Paradoxically, it is only in realizing our smallness, weakness and aloneness – the limits of our ego-based existence – that we create an opening for its “other side” – an opportunity to expand beyond ego and become who we were truly born to be.
This possibility for transformation is intensely present at times when “life as we know it” is threatened, as it is in our world today. And it is even more present on Rosh Hashana, when the world begins anew.
On the Threshhold of Redemption
In this space of transition between the old light and the new we have a unique opportunity to let go of what no longer serves us – the pettiness and resentments, the past-based failures and fears. We can embrace a new way of being; a life of power, passion and purpose. We can commit ourselves to a life of kindness, respect and compassion for the people around us – those we already love, and those we could love if we stopped being so angry, resentful, judgmental or afraid.
In opening ourselves to our own life – and the people in it – we create the greatest possible opening for G-d to inscribe us in His Book of Life for a truly good and sweet year.
This is true every year.
But it is even more true this year. This Rosh Hashana, as the world waits at the threshold of Redemption, an intense level of darkness hovers over the earth. Our world is shaking. Terror, war, mind-numbing natural disasters and crisis in Israel cast a threatening shadow over our lives. But as frightening as these challenges may be, they are nothing more or less than the prelude to an entirely new reality.
Rosh Hashana: A Time of Choice
This Rosh Hashana each one us will choose. We can choose to stay unconscious, trapped within the prison of our fears, resentments and might-have-beens, remaining passive victims of circumstance. Or we can use this opportunity to align ourselves with our Divine destiny through committing to life a more authentically G-dly life – and through doing so, become free.
True freedom lives in the choices you make each moment – in your relationships, in your commitment to a life filled with meaning and awareness of G-d’s nurturing presence in the blessings and challenges of each day. True freedom means remembering that you’re here for a purpose and being willing to do something each day to make that purpose come alive.
If you could create a new future, one not based on your fears and past failures, but based instead on the deepest desires of your soul, who would you be? How would you behave? To whom would you open your heart? Whom would you thank, appreciate or acknowledge? What would you apologize for, and what would you commit to? What dreams would you dare to bring to life? And, most important of all, what would you do to enhance your connection to G-d and your own essence?
It is in your hands to create a new reality. Rosh Hashana holds within it an awesome power. The light of the past is withdrawn and the light of the future has yet to come down into the world and into your life. The Book is open. What will you choose?
**Since the Torah forbids the erasing of G-d’s name, it’s customary to avoid writing it out in full