Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Like many of our teachers and families, I travel the Route 18 corridor to and from school on a daily basis. Many days are “traffic-challenging.” The frustrations felt by many of us stuck in traffic for what seems like an eternity is a test of wills, patience, and yes, even bladder control!
Every day when I begin my journey to school, I explore alternate routes with my GPS; sometimes successfully, while other times facing halted motorists and snarled traffic. I simply want to arrive at my destination, safely and quickly.
As we approach Yom Kippur, the most solemn of Jewish religious holidays, when Jews seek to atone for their sins and achieve an understanding with G-d, I am reminded of the Al Chet prayer. In this passage, we ask forgiveness for our personal transgressions as well as for the transgression of all members of our community. We share in the pain of others and feel their agony as our own. When we do so, we express the peak of wholeness, reaching the place deep within where we are rooted in Divine oneness, where we are all one. On Yom Kippur, God forgives us and we forgive each other.
When we focus only on driving from point A to point B, the inconvenience of sitting in stalled traffic and seeking alternative routes tests our tolerance, endurance, patience, and self-control.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our personal destinations that we lose sight of the road map put before us by G-d. Yes, our journeys are not always smooth-sailing; our bumps in the road have yet to be paved; and the exits may sometimes be blocked. However, as we will read on Yom Kippur in the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, Shelosh-'Esreh Middot HaRakhamim (שָׁלוֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה מִידוֹת הרַחֲמִים, Exodus 34:6-7), “G-d, G-d, Almighty, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in loving-kindness and truth, remembering kindness for thousands [of generations], forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and erasing the guilt [of those who repent].
My wish for you, my Hebrew Academy community, is that the road ahead is clear, meaningful, and calm.
G’mar Chatima Tova,
Head of School