Fall Festivals and Feelings

Posted on: September 18, 2013

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Blog is returning!
So welcome back, my readers!

Tonight begins Sukkot, the Harvest Festival, and I’d like to say that seasonal festivals are wonderful because they celebrate the passage of time.  It’s always worth noting and celebrating the fact that we’ve made it through another year and made it back to where we started.  And we’re all different people in some way, so that bit of sameness and familiarity in life is refreshing.   

I feel that especially at this time of year, in a literal sense with the start of a new school year, new classes, activities, and friendships, and in a spiritual/religious sense with the High Holidays and all the festivals that follow.   (Interesting how it’s a time to contemplate and a time to celebrate.  Maybe those acts are related?)  Fall is a very spiritual time for us all — it’s when we turn over a new leaf just in time for the leaves to start changing.  We let go of the old, and embrace the new.     
(Soon campus will look something like this.) 
Since we’re still in the New Year state of mind, I’ll leave you with this: my very first Rosh Hashanah mini-sermon, delivered this year.   
Good evening, BaRuCH.  
As you all know, Rosh Hashanah is that time of year when we self-examine and reflect on our lives.  What we’ve accomplished in the past year, and what we have yet to achieve. What motivates us, why we do what we do.  And most of all, what we stand for as human beings.  What gives our lives meaning.  
The Binding Of Isaac, one of the readings for Rosh Hashanah, is an interesting case study of how people make sacrifices for what they believe.  Abraham is summoned to sacrifice his own son Isaac at Mt. Moriah in order to prove his faith in G-d.  Abraham almost goes through with the sacrifice, until G-d tells him that he’s already passed the “test” of his faith.  And he’s rewarded for this. G-d blesses him with many descendants. 
The big idea here is that in order to live meaningful lives, we must dedicate ourselves to a cause – some higher purpose beyond ourselves.  Abraham proved his commitment to his faith in the most dramatic of ways.  But Abraham’s sacrifice was only one in human history.  50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr and the heroes of the civil rights movement were courageous enough to speak out and fight against injustice during the March on Washington. They made enormous sacrifices in the name of their beliefs- the hope of a brighter future for so many.  
One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “Find something you would die for, and live for it.”  I hope that in the year ahead, we all find something meaningful that’s worth making sacrifices for. Maybe it’s our faith and spirituality, maybe a personal goal, maybe fighting injustices in society today and making the world a better place. Whatever it is, let it guide us towards becoming better people.  
L’Shanah Tovah. 
So that’s really my state of mind right now.  I don’t know what my purpose in life is, but I do know that a friend just said I’ve kept them going through rough times, and that is the greatest compliment there is.  Maybe doing “something meaningful” isn’t about saving the whole world.  Maybe it’s just about helping a few people in a big way. 
So stay tuned for more Divrei Torah, maybe poems, reflections, and random bursts of inspiration!  Writing is like a box of chocolates- you never know if you’re going to end up with something nutty or something good, but it’s made to be shared and enjoyed.  
Happy Sukkot and Chag Sameach! 

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