From Cantor Lee: There is a line from a song that keeps going through my mind. Folk singer Joan Baez sang it: "There but for fortune go you or I."
We have a "piyyut," a liturgical song, which we sing during the High Holy Days: "B'Rosh Hashanah." We say the same thing: "Who shall die by fire and who by water..."
From Rabbi David: Here we are a few days before Yom Kippur, experiencing such a powerful message. Yet again we are reminded how vulnerable we are living on our mother Earth. All we can do is plan for tomorrow and hope for the best. Tomorrow can turn upside down on us in a matter of minutes. A few days ago many victims of Hurricane Ian along with all of us had no idea about the devastation that was lurking on our west shores waiting to pounce.
We go about our life, doing the best we can for our families, our community, hoping for no surprises, no crises but sometimes things happen which are beyond our control. There is a Yiddish expression, man plans and G-D laughs.
So is the Ian mass devastation some kind of punishment? What did the poor victims do to deserve such hardship? Of course this is not a punishment! Nothing wrong was done to deserve such a catastrophe. We still ask Why? We want logical reasons. I don’t know of any logic for this or, for that matter, for any other suffering that we sometimes are made to endure. There is an unsatisfactory answer that I can think of: such is life.
Life is not perfect. We all know that. So in a few days when we gather to offer the Old Mighty our prayers for Yom Kippur, we are asking to be spared of that which is beyond our control, not because we think it is coming to us for wrong doing. Maybe because we, G-D’s creations, are living in such an unpredictable, unstable outer world on mother earth and in our inner world, our fragile body. This is just the way life is, I suppose.
But yet when we look at the last line in the piyyut it seems not only are we are given an answer but we are the answer!
“But with turning and yearning and caring we can temper the harshness of the decree…”
We are the answer with the compassion, comfort and help we bring to all in need. Perhaps this is why we sing “B’Rosh Hashanah." So we can remember that this is the basis of who we are as Jewish people, a people of compassion here to bring G-d's Light into our unpredictable world. And so it is.
G’mar Chatima Tova,
May we all be sealed for a good year!
Rabbi David and Cantor Lee
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