The WORD 9/6/12. For most of us, preparing for the High Holidays means inviting guests or accepting invitations; making travel arrangements or shopping and cooking; procuring High Holiday tickets and maybe even sending out cards. We tend to focus on the people with whom we will spend the holiday and the food we are going to eat.
There is certainly nothing wrong with doing any of those things. In fact, they are important parts of getting ready for the High Holiday season.
But, there is more to the High Holidays than the people and the food – though I certainly love people AND food!
There is the spiritual preparation.
It begins with introspection: Who are we? What have we done this past year? What do we still not know?
Then, we turn our focus to God: Why do we pray? What do we say when we pray? What do I do when I get to services?
In this week’s Torah portion, we get a hint as to how we might go about answering some of these questions.
We are told at the very beginning of the portion that when our ancestors entered the Land of Israel, they were to bring their first fruits to the High Priest. They were then supposed to recite four verses (Deut. 26:5-9) which tell the story of our people from the time of Abraham through the Exodus from Egypt. Those four verses form a central portion of our Passover Seder to this day. It was a powerful ritual that resonates to this day.
We are supposed to be mindful of God’s role in our success. We are supposed to remember all that happened to our ancestors. We are supposed to participate in the communal worship of our people. We are supposed to make sure that the next generation does the same.
It’s a tall order.
The more familiar we become with the words and music of our liturgy, though, the more apparent it becomes that the ancient rabbis knew what they were doing. They guide us through a ten day process in which we can address some of the questions that we ask ourselves as we prepare for the High Holidays.
I know that the Hebrew can be daunting, but come and learn with the Cantor with me as we guide you through the High Holiday liturgy in the coming days. We look forward to the journey with you.