by Rabbi Gila Caine
(EJNews) – Rosh Hashanah is a time machine. Each year it sends me back in time to that first moment of BANG, of exploding possibilities, ideas, desires, fear and longing, unlimited potential and creativity. Every year I ask myself – where will I be next year, right now on the first day of Tishrei?
Rosh Hashanah is holy because it is a time out of time – like Shabbat, but on a larger scale. We’re used to calling Yom Kippur “Shabbat Shabbaton”, the Shabbat of all Shabbats put together. But my understanding of Rosh Hashanah the festival of Creation, is that on this day the gates are opened and we are welcomed into that mythical time-out-of-time when the world was all shiny and new.
This happens every year, and it’s extremely important for us to notice this in our world, today.
For many years Jewish tradition has had much to say about redemption (the redemption out of Egypt and all that this brings with it would be the first example that comes to mind). Jewish tradition has also had much to say about revelation (that miraculous moment when G-d is revealed to worthy individuals like Moses, or at some special times to the whole nation- on the shores of the red sea or over Mt. Sinai).
These are both central ideas in the development of Jewish thought and identity.
But our generation is remembering to bring in another element, one that would allow us a more complete understanding of what it means to be a Jew in our world. This is the story of creation and of life itself.
To be more precise, and I’m borrowing here from Rabbi Arthur Green’s writings – we are invited to embrace a relationship to all that is sacred in which there is revelation in creation.
What does this mean?
We are living in a time of environmental crisis, social disintegration and loneliness. A time when animals are enslaved and land is eaten up by our greed. A time when our children are bereft of their childhood, food is plastic and chemicals and we are playing around pretending to be G-d with our inventions.
The concept of revelation in creation calls on us to notice that creation, as an ongoing process, is happening all around us. And, that creation in all it’s beauty and diversity, is actually the face of Elohim, G-d (or if you are an atheist – call it by any other word that means something extremely holy).
This idea reminds us that Kedushah (holiness) is all around us in the world and inside ourselves, and it reminds us that the existence of LIFE is a miracle. This is a complex theology of interconnectedness and of a Delicate and Aweful presence of G-d around and within us. Everywhere and at all times.
When we are aware that G-d is revealed in creation all around us, then we may begin to remember our manners. We may start to interact with all living creatures and the Earth itself, with all the respect they deserve as the living face of Adonai our G-d.
And so, Rosh Hashanah is a time machine – not the one we use to change the past, but to change the future.
And so, I go back to the days of creation and see this world as the miracle it is. I then have ten days before Yom Kippur arrives to think about all that I am seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling and tasting. I have ten days to think where I wish to be next year on the first day of Tishrei, and where I wish and hope the rest of creation will be – a calmer, happier and more respectful world.
I invite you to take some time on Rosh Hashanah and think of one action you would like to take, an action to help preserve and honour life on our Adamah (earth).
Wishing all of us here at Edmonton, and around the world, a Shanah Tovah U’metuka!
Rabbi Gila Caine is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Ora in Edmonton Alberta.