Words by Rabbi Alan Lew (z”l):
“For ten days the gates are open and the world is fluid. We are finally awake, if only in fits and starts, if only to toss and turn. For ten days transformation is within our grasp. For ten days, we an imagine ourselves not as fixed and immutable beings, but rather as a limitless filed upon which qualities and impulses rise up and fall away again like waves on the sea.”
The Shabbat in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is simply not like every other Shabbat. Known traditionally as Shabbat Shuvah it falls in the middle of the 10 days of Teshuvah which Rabbi Lew references above. It is a chance, a moment in time, the liminal space between moments when we first celebrate the birth of the world (Rosh Hashanah) and second where we enter a period self reflection and personal introspection (Yom Kippur). It is the turning in between, the transition from celebration and renewal to deep inner reflection. This transformation is complex – it does not happen once and then we move on – it is a constant process. It does not have a beginning, middle and end – it should always be going on. However, for most of us this time is the moment – the opportunity, the chance to work on transforming ourselves. We should be striving to turn, for that is the root of this time period and this day. The name of the Shabbat is the Hebrew shin vav vet – to turn towards – turning towards home, to turn towards the person we want to become, toward our ultimate potential. Remember as you do the work, to start small to pick one element of yourself, your life and imagine a dial – the knob skewed, turned to a spot that is not where you want it to be and think about how you shift the dial turning it toward the aligned spot, the spot which centers you, places you along the part of the path that reflects your true potential. Like the words of the opening and closing of Haftorah we call to ourselves “Return, O Israel to the Lord your God…” and then to God “You will keep faith with Jacob, loyalty to Abraham as you promised an oath to our fathers”. May we have the courage to return to God and be granted through our efforts the oath and loyalty God promised our ancestors – speedily in our lifetime.
G’mar Chatimah Tovah –May we all be sealed for goodness in the book of Life, Shabbat Shalom.