Archive | September, 2012

A Twinkle in God’s Eye

11 Sep

Arriving in New York today on an EL AL airplane offered me a moment for reflection.

While disembarking from the aircraft, one after the next the flight attendants and then the pilots offered each passenger warm wishes for a Shanah Tovah. It was a nice feeling, a feeling of still being at home, even though many of were now thousands of miles away from the place we call home. We had just spent 12 hours together -some slept, some read, some watched movies (and one baby just never stopped crying). We had shared two meals together. And now, each of us was moving out of the plane toward a destiny about which we all have abundant plans…but who knows? “Shanah tovah – May your plans for days, weeks, months and the year ahead go well.”

In the synagogue next week, following the blowing of the shofar, many of us will recite the words: Hayom
olam – today the world was conceived. Although a famous argument between Rabbis Eliezer and Yehoshua on the pages of tractate Rosh Hashanah of the Babylonian Talmud debates whether the earth was created in Tishrei or Nissan, our liturgical position poses the notion that it was actually only conceived on that day.

The difference between conception and creation is the difference between the architect’s blueprint and the builder’s finished product.

So what difference might it make if we understand Rosh Hashanah as the day of the earth’s conception, rather than its creation?

I would like to suggest that the conception stage offers limitless potential.

The idea stage of a building project, for instance, is so very exciting because no one knows exactly where it is going to go. For now it is an idea, bursting with opportunities for creativity and innovation. Ultimately, the project comes to fruition and takes on a specific form. The building is actually created. At that point, making changes is still possible, but more difficult. Renovations can be costly and inconvenient.

If we consider Rosh Hashanah as the day of creation, then we are already bound to a certain set of norms that are difficult to change. The stage has been set, and it is for us to use the raw materials as provided to make the most of our lives.

However, if we consider Rosh Hashanah as the day the world’s conception – the day upon which the divine plans for earth and life were only first formulated – then perhaps we can assume a much bolder role as co-creators of the world we live in. Perhaps as the shofar is sounded, in a sense the clock is turned back to the very beginning of beginnings when only the “spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep” and everything was possible.

And if that is the case, then the shofar charges us to view our lives in the same way. Rosh Hashanah gives us the opportunity to go back and make changes to the actual blueprints of our lives – everything is once again possible.

What will this new year bring with it? What will be the challenges that lie of ahead for each of us, for our families, friends, communities and nation? We cannot know for sure. However, if we bring to those challenges ahead a sense of unlimited potential and a spirit of boundless innovation, then no destiny need be considered set in stone – the quill is on our hands to write the story ahead.

Shanah tovah.