Rabbi Julie's Selichot Message

posted Aug 31, 2018, 2:44 PM by Daniel Johnson   [ updated Sep 5, 2018, 7:01 PM by Larry Finkelstein ]
Welcome to this gateway into the New Year. What better way to start the journey than with emunah, faith.

Rashi teaches that the foundation of all mitzvot, all good deeds, is emunah, faith.

We’re supposed to act out that faith by expressing gratitude every day for the fact that God created the world.

But the Hassidic sages asked a real question, doesn’t it get boring to keep saying thank you for the Big Bang? (They said it in their own words!) It’s kind of over and done with and yet we’re still praying the same words of appreciation.

They bring a Psalm in to help answer this question, one of Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi’s favorite psalms that we also hear in our High Holy Day liturgy in the prayer Shema Koleynu, Al tashlichi l’et zikna, Do not cast me away in my older years. The Baal Shem Tov’sgrandson Rabbi Moshe Chayim Efrayim of Sudlikov taught that Al tashlichi le’et zikna, Do not cast me away in my older years, applies also to old words and old wisdom. It’s a message to remind US to find treasure in generations of Jewish teaching.

But then these sages turn their very own teaching on its head and say actually none of this IS old. Because God renews creation every single moment. Each moment is entirely new with entirely new choices and moral demands. So we are in constant on-going gratitude for this renewal. Our faith is constantly renewed but even more important, God has faith in US and that’s why we are given the continual gift of getting to respond.

So when we hear the words V’ahavtah re-eycha camocha, Love your neighbor as yourself or we hear Remember, you were strangers in Egypt, Never Again, these words have new meaning in this day. We are called anew to respond now. We have faith in the value of our tradition and God’s faith is invested in us to respond. We are part of a covenant of emunah. As we step into this New Year, may we be worthy of this covenant of faith.

~~ Rabbi Julie
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