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Will I Live 'til Next Year?

08/19/2019 03:56:02 PM


If there is one question that undergirds the purpose of the High Holy Days, it is the asking and pondering and reflecting and maybe even, obsessing, over this one: “Will I live til next year?” 

Not at all because we have control over it.

And not at all because we can somehow pray our way out of death (as much as we’d like to believe otherwise).

Not at all because our deeds, whether good or bad, will determine it.

And not at all because fasting, at least this time around, will absolve us of our sins.

No, we should be focusing on this question because it’s the only one that makes life actually matter.  There’s a creative bit of liturgy, a poem in the High Holy Day Machzor (prayerbook) that asks if we indeed are willing to sacrifice birth, discovery, creativity, if but we could vanquish death and succumbing to our mortality.  The poet’s answer is “Heck no!” (but then again, poets often get their greatest recognition once they have passed…) But sitting where we sit (not with a God’s eye view), it is difficult to accept this fact, but there it is.  Precisely because we will one day cease to be, like my own deceased grandparents and uncles and theirs before them, one truly has to wonder why we seem to think that we make life better by fighting, stealing, lying and cheating.  Of course, not everyone does, at least not in obvious ways except for when we may take up a fight only in order to be heard, steal grace from someone else when we owe them forgiveness, lie our way in to a job or a deal, or cheat our way out to avoid the truth. 

None of us will enter the Days of Awe without a bag full of sin.  Life’s value can better be seen when we are willing to let it shine on what’s inside.

Sat, July 11 2020 19 Tammuz 5780