Friday, September 18, 2009
Eighteen minutes before sunset today, September 18, Jews around the world will be ushering in the New Year. The New Year, Rosh HaShanah will be the year 5770, which is the number of years since the creation of the world. The holiday ends Sunday night
Although it is a holiday which is exclusive to the Jewish calendar, it pertains to the entire world, since the creation was completed on that day.
There is a critical component of prayer that takes place on the New Year, in which people ask G-d for a year that is indisputably good in all respects. But resolutions are also critical. To assess oneself and to ask how one might make a difference. because a critical aspect of the sojourn of the human race on this planet is that we are the sole species created with free will.
For better or worse, the world as we know it is in the state that it is in because of the choices we have made, as individuals and as communities. It is a good idea to step back and ask what we have done with our free will, how we can improve ourselves and the world we have affected.
You can have a kitchen full of ingredients, and not have a meal. It takes work and knowledge to make dinner of disparate ingredients. The world is a lot like that. We could feed a lot more people that the earth currently supports. We could provide for our basic needs and find ways to celebrate our differences. We all know that this is far from how things are. The reason lies within ourselves.
If the world could be compared to a computer, it could be said that people are trying to run it with faulty operating systems. Millions have been killed in the last hundred years because someone believed in communism, Nazism or some other ism enough to be willing to kill for it. G-d did not create the world without an operating system. He gave us the Torah and a set of rules that are for our good.
A friend of mine, Shmuel Klatzkin told me a story in Boston about 30 years ago. In it, a man was shown heaven and hell. When he was shown a glimpse of hell, it was a beautifully appointed banquet hall. The sole disturbing feature was that the banquet guests had no elbows. They lunged desperately at their plates, soiling their clothing, breaking dishes and leaving the floor slick with spilled food. The man cringed in horror from the vision he saw, and asked to be shown heaven.
The next room the man was shown was also a banquet hall just as lavish as the one he saw in hell. Not only that, but the guests also had no elbows. Unlike hell, however, there was a quiet hum of conversation, and no spills or screaming. What was the difference? The guests fed each other. Each ate their choice and their fill, and left in clean clothes. The difference in heaven was that the guests looked at their limitations and thought of each other. In hell, it was every man for himself, and the banquet hall there reflected it.
We are faced with the same sort of choices. Each of us has his defects and limitations. What will we make of the world we have been given? Will we think of each other? Or will we think only of ourselves? G-d is looking through the window of our banquet hall. Are we thinking of each other? Heaven or hell is ours to make, by virtue of the choices we make. May G-d guide us in making the proper choices in the upcoming year and rescue us from the poor choices of years past. Sphere: Related Content