“I have a dream…” ― a phrase immortalised by Martin Luther King. “…I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character….” It was a dream that he did not live to see realized; a dream that is still not realized. But a man who dreams is a man who cares. And a man who cares is a man who makes a difference.
We Jews also have a dream. A dream that we have dreamt for almost 3500 years. And Rosh Hashana is the day that we remind ourselves of that dream.
You would think that on the awesome Day of Judgment, ― “who will live and who will die, who by fire and who by sword…” ― you would think that we would pray for forgiveness, for health, for a year of life. But if you look at the essence of the prayer service, you will see that we ask for none of this.
What do we ask? We ask that God perfect the world. We ask for unity amongst people. We ask for harmony. We ask for the destruction of evil and justice in response to righteousness. In short, we ask that God bring us the Messianic Age. It’s all lovely stuff, but at first glance, it seems a little out of place on Rosh Hashana.
In fact, it’s exactly what Rosh Hashana is all about.
We stand before a loving God, our Father. Every Father wants their child to live a long, healthy and prosperous life. And so, like any good father, He is offering us another year. The question is whether we are interested. The year is on offer, but what are we going to do with it? Are we living for something that matters? Or are we concerned about our next lollipop? Are we striving to be great, or meandering towards mediocrity?
Rosh Hashana is there to lift our sights, to remind us to dream. And to dream of great things ― peace, love, justice… Why bother dreaming of anything less? By dreaming grandiose dreams, we remind ourselves that life really does matter. This is not just another year of drudgery. It is a year in which we can accomplish great things. We remind ourselves that we really do want another year, another opportunity to strive towards making a difference.
Rosh Hashana is a day to ask the all important question: What am I living for? If we know what we are living for and it is something that matters, God will give us life. If we’re wasting life, God may give us a little more to waste, but then again, He may not.
Let’s not take the chance. On Rosh Hashana, let’s make sure we have a dream.