The Purple Sheet
Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim– September 30th; October 1st 2016
Rosh HaShanah – Forget Me Not
Three themes appear on Rosh Hashanah as outlined in theMussaf – Additional – prayer service of the day. Malchiot – Kingship, Zichronot – Remembrance and Shofrot – the Shofar sound.
Shofar is the most obvious of the three as it is the definitive symbol of the day. Shofar is to Rosh HaShanah as Matza is to Pesach – the most visual (and audio) icon of the holiday.Malchiot/Kingship is a second topic because Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment. According to Jewish tradition, Mankind was created on this day, the first of Tishrei and therefore is now being judged on its birthday – a natural annual day to reflect on one self. Hence we speak of the ultimate arbiter of Justice and definitive Judge of the day.
But I want to focus on the Zichronot/Remembrance part of this troika – that God remembers every individual on this day. The concept of everything being scrutinized is not necessarily a comfortable one for most people. The idea that the Almighty sees every one of my actions, is aware of every one of my thoughts, knows every motivation, is completely attentive to any moment when I am not sincere, knows when I waste time or when I give myself the benefit of the doubt in a line call in tennis, knows when I am not completely truthful in my words, knows when I speak ill of another for no good reason or whatever else I might do that I wouldn’t wish to see on my resume – the fact that God knows every last bit of it can be a bit disconcerting. Indeed we see that politicians often lose their footing when every nook and cranny of their past is put under the microscope. This is what happens on Rosh HaShanah and indeed one of the reasons that Rosh Hashanah is referred to as Yamim Noraim – The Days of Awe. Days of fear and trepidation as God judges each of us to see if we are worthy of another year of life.
But there is happy side of Remembrance which is often overlooked and the flip side of the dread associated with Judgment. And when you think about it, it is actually a quite comforting notion to be scrutinized and remembered by God.
Consider for a moment whom we judge the harshest … whom do we criticize the most? Right now I am visualizing the hands of each one of my children going up. Yes, those whose lives mean the most to us get judged the harshest. When we see a stranger do something that we know is self-destructive, we may feel moved to correct them but more often than not we ignore them and go on our merry way, completely indifferent to the damage they may be causing themselves. But when we see a loved one, a child, a spouse, a close friend who is hurting themselves, we feel the need to speak up and do whatever we can to fix the situation. We are much more critical of those whom we love the most. Not that it is always expressed in the most effective manner, but the simple fact remains – when we love someone a great deal, we are very sensitive to the nuances of their every deed and action.
And so the idea that God judges us is an expression that I am very special in His eyes much the way a child is regarded by a parent. For while He is aware of every flaw that I may have, He is also completely aware of every concern, every need, every struggle, every challenge, every wish and every dream that I harbor in my heart of hearts. He is also completely aware of every act of good that I do – whether it is acknowledged by anyone else or not. Every effort I make to improve myself or the world around me, whether it is met with success or not, is totally known to Him. And just as a parent has an unwavering love of their child no matter how much they may succeed or not, so too God has the same for us.
Sometimes we go through life wondering if anyone is paying any attention to us. We go about our daily lives and struggles and hope that if we stay the course and do what is true and good, it will ultimately be noted and appreciated. We mustn’t ever lose faith in the simple truth that our lives have meaning. Every one of us is created in God’s image and thereby has infinite worth, potential and good. No matter what the challenges, we must carry on and live in accordance with the principles of truth and good, integrity and honesty because it doesn’t go unnoticed, certainly not by an all-seeing God. And while we may not get immediate recognition from others, it does eventually come. It might not be today or tomorrow but it does eventually show up; maybe in a year, maybe in ten years, it may take even most of a lifetime, or in the case of the Jewish people, many millennium. But Truth, Justice and Goodness are the foundations that make up this world because they are expressions of God who created the world this way. And so they do win out and are duly noted, if not today, then certainly tomorrow.
So stay the course, play your song, don’t get distracted by the many that may not be paying attention and realize that even if no others take note of your goodness, the Creator of the Universe certainly does. He remembers you and everything you do – especially the good.
I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by…
Remember the good times that we had?