One wonderful metaphor for the shofar blast on Rosh Hashanah is that of an alarm clock, waking us up to the ways we have acted, and helping us to become the people we wish to be. But all too often, we are likely to hit the snooze button.
Passover reminds us that we are free, which means that we have the freedom to choose how we act. Yet those actions will ultimately define who we are.
Our greatest Jewish responsibility is to give thanks, because when we give thanks, we recognize the holy potential of our world and bring more of it into people’s lives.
“Freedom” is not a binary state – either we are free, or we are not. Rather, “freedom” is a matter of degree, but while we may not be completely “free,” we still are responsible.
Money doesn’t have value in and of itself — its power comes in what it allows us to do. The question then is, are we using our money to help us do what we truly want to be doing?
We humans are naturally curious creatures — we are born to explore. A mission to Mars excites us because we simply don’t know what we’ll discover, or how exactly it will add to our knowledge, or what new technologies will arise as a result. Even if we don’t immediately sense its benefits, it still has value, because the journey of learning is its own reward.
If we act “as if” we were trying to improve who we are and how we behave, we actually do improve who we are and how we behave.
Joy expands who we are. And that’s a message we need to remember for Sukkot.
“Knowing” can be a big problem, because “knowing” prevents “learning.” And so perhaps that’s why the Rabbis urged us to do something very challenging – to “teach [our] tongue to say ‘I don’t know.’”
There are two Hebrew words that we say many, many times over these High Holy Days. Those two Hebrew words are, of course, shanah tovah. And yet we almost always mistranslate them.