Rosh Hashanah Message: Rabbi Josh Hearshen
Rosh HashanahCommunity

Rosh Hashanah Message: Rabbi Josh Hearshen

Rabbi Josh Hearshen shares his thoughts and inspiration for the Jewish New Year.

Rabbi Josh Hearshen, of Congregation Or VeShalom
Rabbi Josh Hearshen, of Congregation Or VeShalom

Rosh Hashana is a holiday that’s very closely linked to tears. On the first day, we read about Hagar and her crying out when she and Ishmael were cast away by Avraham and Sarah. We learn about the tears of Hannah when she cries out in Shilo about her longing to be a mother and to have what others have. And tears are found in various midrashim about the Akeidat Yitzchak. All of these tears and more are very essential to the way we should relate to the day. If Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur are to be “real” and not just something we “merely go through the motions with,” then we need to see ourselves as standing on the cusp of a new life while looking back on the old. We need to see we have much to be thankful for and much to be proud of, and at the same time, we need to recognize we have much cause for remorse.

As we learn in the Talmud (Brachot 32b) “Since the day the Temple was destroyed the gates of prayer were locked, as it is said, ‘Though I please and call out, He shuts out my prayer’ (Lamentations 3:8). Despite the fact the gates of prayer were locked, the gates of tears were not locked, as it is stated, ‘Hear my prayer, Lord, and give ear to my pleading, keep not silence at my tears.’(Psalms 39:13)”

The tears we cry are another method of reaching to G-d. This has been a difficult year. Our news cycle runs from one natural disaster to another… multiple political crises… the situation of divisiveness in Israel and here at home… and so much more. It’s easy to see the tears of our ancestors are alive and well today. As we embark on a New Year, we need to feel our way out of this pit and look for the light all around us. The tears we physically, and metaphorically, have shed in the past year need to be our prayer for a different year ahead of us. May we each look to news not of disasters but of building.

May we all look for news not of political crises but of miraculous work on furthering our union. May we all look for news not of bitter divisiveness in Israel but that Medinat Yisrael live up to her station as being a “light unto the nations.”

May this year be one where each of us pulls together to shed fewer tears of despair and many more tears of joy and elation. Tizku L’Shanim Rabot.

Rabbi Josh Hearshen is the Rabbi of Congregation Or VeShalom in Brookhaven.

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