I would like to discuss my sermonic plans for this year at the Guardians of the Torah services for the Days of Awe. Besides talking about the Holy Days, Torah and Haftarah portions, I try to find topics that are important, but also, perhaps, unexpected.
On Rosh Hashanah I will talk about the spiritual importance of our archaeological past. Civilizations rise and fall based in part on their desire to preserve the past.
When societies spurn their history, they degrade into barbarism: the Taliban, ISIS, Nazis, Red Guards, Khmer Rouges and other examples illustrate this danger.
Israel has always cherished its past as archaeology has been a national obsession. I believe, in this way, Israel could be a model for other countries. In our own country, we should not give in to the iconoclastic tendencies in dealing with our own morally problematic history.
On Yom Kippur, I will reflect on the enduring mystery of consciousness. Computers have become immensely powerful and artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly. But what is missing from even the most powerful mainframes is even the merest hint of consciousness. What is this inner life of living beings, which so far has eluded science and technology? What is this miraculous phenomenon that seems so connected to spirituality?
In this information age, no philosophical question is more important than the nature and origin of consciousness. The implications of the answers to these questions we arrive at will have a profound impact on religious life in the 21st century. Jewish theology has much to offer on this mysterious subject.
I wish for all of you, your families, friends, fellow congregants and to our entire metro community a Shanah tova umetuka: a good and sweet year, replete with Divine blessings for the children and land of Israel and all the family of humanity.