Weekly Davar: Nitzavim/Rosh Hashana 2022

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Davar Thought

I thought I’d share some thoughts on Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year).

I’ve talked before about it being a day of dreaming. Martin Luther King had a dream for America – a dream that is yet unfulfilled in its fullest sense, but we must acknowledge that much of it has become reality. The sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners do indeed sit down, at times, at tables of brotherhood. His children are acknowledged by the vast majority of Americans for the content of their character, not the colour of their skin. The more tangibly a person sees a vision of hope for the future, the more likely she, or he, will bring it about. Martin Luther King was such a person. And so, change came.

On Rosh Hashana, we Jews dream the Jewish dream – our three-thousand-year-old dream of a better world. A dream we have carried in our hearts, unabated and undaunted, through bitter exile and unimaginable persecution. A dream that we have always known, and know today, is just a matter of time. Humanity will find its way there. Be it by motorway, or by the windy and potholed ‘B’ roads that we continue to take, all roads do eventually lead to Rome, the Promised Land of humanity’s salvation through its own means.

If you look at the prayers of Rosh Hashana, they paint a most uplifting and inspiring vision of a world that is Godly, a world that looks to be of service, that looks to unite behind a common banner of brotherhood. And to see it in one’s mind’s eye is to believe it and to know it. For this reason, I love Rosh Hashana. It’s just so uplifting.

My daughter asked me today if it is enough to dream or do you need to implement? In other words, does vision lead automatically to its own implementation or does it need to be planned step by step? I am a great believer in the power of vision itself. Visionaries are the people who change our world. People who can see that change tangibly, before it has yet come about. People who we might refer to as prophets; who know in the deepest recesses of their hearts what the future could be – not lethargic daydreamers – but real dreamers. Such people change our world. A Lenin, a King, a Mandela, a Gandhi, a Pankhurst…nothing gets in their way because they know that the world they see in front of them MUST be replaced by something greater and better. And they do not doubt it because they see it.

On Rosh Hashana, we Jews take two days just to dream of a better world, to dream of what our world could become. Taking time, at the start of the year, to re-establish and rejuvenate our vision is, in my mind, genius. We all need to reflect and renew our vision at times. In the Jewish year it is fixed for Rosh Hashana. If you are Jewish, why not grasp the opportunity?

Shabbat Shalom and Good Yom Tov

Parsha in a Nutshell

A real shorty this week, but a great one also, one of my favourites: Moses gathers the Jewish people together, on the eve of his passing, to explain the concepts of both individual and collective responsibility: each individual is responsible not only for his own actions, but also for the actions and attitudes of the entire community.

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