Ellul has arrived. The last month of the Jewish year. Tradition tells us that we are to begin the turning of our souls to the soon to be upon us new year. It is supposed to be a time of reflection, of beginning that turn to the new. This has got me thinking of a bunch of things, many for the first time. Something is different this time.
The summer has not been kind. Surgery, serious illness among many friends and the death of another close friend close to the yarhtzeits of my mom and another close friend. It has been a time that I was almost hesitant to answer the phone, concerned that another piece of bad news was going to delivered. One of the things that has crept into consciousness this summer is that reality of my own aging. Maybe it has been this slow recovery from surgery. Maybe it has been the onsolought of all the news of friends. Maybe it has been the face that is greeting me in the mirror. Maybe it is all of the above…and more!
There is a real sense that this coming High Holidays may be something very different. I am starting to ask myself, what am I turning away from and what do I wish to turn to? Our work with Boomers and the web site constantly shows the trend of our generation to look forward and see this next stage of life as an adventure. But, what the summer has also brought home is the reality of time passing (much too quickly, by the way) and the randomness of life. We just never do know what that phone call will bring. I have seen this summer too many instances of someone’s life changing in the blink of an eye. Unplanned, out of the blue! There is this growing tension that maybe some of you are feeling as well: there is so much I wish to do, and yet I am beginning to fear that I will run of of time. And, it is totally out of my control.
I am hoping that I can learn from the lessons of this summer. To really see in each day a chance for creativity and engagement. To turn to an understanding that delaying the things I wish to do or have an opportunity to do is foolish. I am constantly reminded of the Torah portion we will read very soon as part of the regular cycle and see again on Yom Kippur: parashah “Nitzavim” (Deut. 29.30) in which the concept of choice is so paramount. I hope that I, you, all of us can turn thie Ellul to realize that the choices we will be making in this coming year carry with them powerful consequences. So to that, we affirm the Torah’s charge to “choose life”. It is precious and waits for no one!
Rabbi Richard F Address