Rosh HaShanah, as the day in which the world was born, is a time to think globally about the health of our planet and of society. Last year was a turbulent one, with ominous, darkening skies, a growing tribalist mentality gripping our society in the States, the ongoing domestic upheaval in Israel, and the rise of a hatred, intolerance and antisemitism that we had naively believed were things of the past. And, as if that weren’t enough, we are now all still recoiling from the aftershock of the horrific earthquake that hit Moracco just a few days ago, leaving more than 2,000 dead.
On this Rosh HaShana, we turn to God to pray for a healing of our broken world. And we know that we must play a part in helping to bring this healing about. For it is on this day of God’s kingship that we imagine a future world in which God is recognized by all humankind, a world that is more perfect, more just, more Godly. It is on this day that we must ask ourselves what it is that we can do this coming year to partner with God to make this vision a reality, to make the world a more just, more compassionate and more caring place for all its inhabitants.
If thinking of the world as a whole is too daunting and overwhelming, let’s start by thinking about our own, small worlds. Our homes, our interactions with others—friends, family, and strangers. Let’s try to model, in every small interaction, the type of kindness and caring, of respect for people and respect for the planet, that we would like to see shared by others and by society as a whole. If each one of us does that, then some real change can truly happen.
Finally, let’s remember that we are not in this alone. On Rosh HaShanah, we gather together as a community and we remember that our fates are intertwined, that we are all in this together. And we affirm that God has created this world and put us on this planet because God believes in us. Every year, we get a chance to start afresh, to put our past sins behind us and to remind ourselves that even if we sometimes might not have faith in ourselves, God has faith in us. God knows that we will fail, and God knows that we can pick ourselves up and start again. We can do this as individuals, and we can do this as a society. We can work to bring about a more perfect world.
So as we look towards this coming year, we pray תכלה שנה וקללותיה, תחל שנה וברכותיה, “let last year and its curses come to an end; let this year and its blessings being to ascend.” Let us all do our best to bring those blessings to fruition.