Rabbi Larry Sernovitz’ Rosh Hashanah Message for 2022
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Rabbi Larry Sernovitz’ Rosh Hashanah Message for 2022

Rabbi Larry Sernovitz shares his thoughts and inspiration for the Jewish New Year.

Rabbi Larry Sernovitz
Rabbi Larry Sernovitz

One of my favorite teachings for this time of year, and frankly for the whole year, is one from Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, a Chasidic Master who lived in Poland during the late 17th-early 18th century. He was the son of a German-Jewish rabbi/merchant and a mother who descended from generations of rabbis going all the way back to Rashi.

He not only had a strong Jewish education but also pursued secular studies in Leipzig, Germany. Rav Simcha strongly believed in showing the beauty of Judaism to secular Jews. In fact, he could be found in theaters on Jewish holidays in the hopes of bringing Jews to synagogue. He believed that every Jew had value, no matter their religious practice.

He once taught, “Everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into the one or the other, depending on the need. When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged, or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and there, find the words: ‘For my sake was the world created.’

But when feeling high and mighty one should reach into the left pocket and find the words: ‘I am but dust and ashes.’”

In our world today, self-care and believing in our innate ability to impact the world is waning. Each person truly has value due to the heaviness of the world, many of us are struggling to get by. Rav Simcha encouraged people to find joy and meaning in life, hence his name “Simcha,” meaning joy. But he also saw many in society who grew to be arrogant and believed in finding that critical balance.

During this High Holy Day season, let Rav Simcha’s words penetrate our souls, guiding us to do God’s work while maintaining our humility in the process. If we allow ourselves to walk in God’s ways, 5783 will be a year we all can look back upon, seeing a resurgence of goodness, kindness, and peace in our world.

May the new year be sweet, kind, and bestow much good blessing upon you and your loved ones.

Larry Sernovitz is the senior rabbi at Temple Kol Emeth.

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