I look forward to Rosh Hashanah and celebrating a new year with you. And, I am excited to partner with our professional team in infusing our worship experiences with purpose and meaning. We will experiment with special music and alternative readings, some of which are not found in Mishkan Hanefesh, our machzor as a way of lending additional color and texture to our worship.
I've also been busy preparing sermons, and I am eager to offer them.
On Erev Rosh Hashanah, I will give a sermon entitled "The Art and Practice of Apology." The High Holidays also infuse us with new resolve, a freshly empowered will to return home more honestly, more faithfully--to our families, to life, ready to stand before those we've hurt, prepared to make amends for transgressions bein adam l'chaveiro, between us and our friends. And, one of the ways we activate this new resolve is by saying "I am sorry" and demonstrating that we mean it.
On Rosh Hashanah, I will present a sermon called "Hineini, Mi Ata Beni? (I am Here. Who Are You My Son?): Being Present, Building Relationships and Making People Matter. Typically, on Rosh Hashanah, we focus on what happens when Abraham focuses on his own sense of presence, when he says hineini before he binds Isaac as an act of profound faith. But this year's sermon turns our gaze to Isaac, when he says hineini in the presence of Jacob, who has come in disguise to seek his father's blessings. The question that follows, Mi ata beni? (Who are you my son?) reflects Isaac's willingness to be there by his son's side, to support him and to challenge him to find his better self. I am inspired by this question as a paradigm for building community and shaping purpose as your rabbi. And I think the creativity of this question, so apropos of our celebration of the world's creation, can inspire our own self-discovery as people of spirit, while helping us collaborate on making our congregation and our lives to matter more going forward.
Finally, on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah, I will give a d'var Torah on Bereshit, looking at the concept of bikkurim, of first fruits, a concept I introduced earlier this month. For our ancestors, the the first fruits came from the best of their harvest and were brought to Jerusalem for sacrifice. Bikkurim now, for the most part, take the form of our very best qualities, the very best of ourselves, an excellence we may have strayed from during the year. The teaching here reflects on how we can return to the very best of ourselves and the creative significance of our bikkurim in making our lives and our world better.
I will preview my Yom Kippur sermons next week, but in the meantime, let's make these final days of Elul count.
Early wishes for a shanah tovah u'm'tukah: A good and sweet year...
Rabbi Craig Marantz