Filling Our Lives and Lives of Others with Blessings
By Rabbi Seth L. Bernstein, D.Min.
Among my favorite lines for introducing the Yamim Noraim, are those found in a 13th century text written by the Sephardic Jew, Abraham Hazzan of Gerona. The text’s title is “Ahot Ketanah—A Little Sister.” There is a Ladino song of the same title, but his poem perennially summarizes our world situation and our holiest season with these precious words: “May the year and its ills end now together…May the year and its blessings begin now together.”
For one’s person and for our people this year has had its ills: illness and loss, tragedy and hardship, natural disasters and human suffering. The refugee crisis and prolonged violence continue throughout the Mideast and the world. These are just some of the world’s ills, that in addition to our personal ills, we pray will end now together.
The Jewish year 5777 holds much promise for us. Blessings come to us and our people when we fill the moments of our lives with opportunities for growth and spiritual development. How can we fill lives with blessings? We can begin by coming to the aid of those in need. We can be supportive of our People wherever we reside in the world. We can support the Jewish Federation’s efforts to be of assistance to those in Howard County, throughout this country and abroad. We can fill our lives with blessings by filling our spirits with a love for the Source of all life, our fellow Jews and others who are in need. We can fill our lives with blessings by filling our lives with prayer, study and good deeds.
The Hebrew month of Tishri, which begins with Rosh Hashanah, almost coincides with the secular month of October. Tishri is filled with Jewish holidays that invite your observance, participation and active involvement in synagogue life just as Tishri invites your participation and active involvement in Federation activities that will fill your life and the lives of others with blessings.
Will the New Year and its blessings begin now together? With the grace of Hashem and our active engagement there is no reason why such blessings would not flow into our lives and the lives of those with whom we are blessed to come into relationship.
Rabbi Seth L. Bernstein is Rabbi of Bet Aviv in Columbia, MD, and is the President of the Howard County Board of Rabbis for the coming year.