Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where Does the Circle Begin? Equinoctical New Year

27 Elul, Two Days before Rosh Hashanah

"Where does the circle start? When does the year begin?
As with many Jewish questions, there are at least two answers
--and both of them are right."
--Arthur Waskow, Seasons of Our Joy

For us now, the circle begins amidst the end of the season growth. A new beginning as the harvest of autumn begins.
Here, the equinoctical storms gather; frontal weather from the west, this year, the rains are increased; brought by the gathering waters of the El Nino far away.
This brings unsettled weather, dark clouds scudding across a pale, rain-washed sky at dawn.
The season is changing, a season of death and renewal. A season of introspection and harvest.

"Judaism is a religion of Life against death.
Death negates redemption; it is the end of growth, of freedom.
. . . Judaism's general response to the fact of death is to fight back.
Life is given the highest priority."
--R. Irving Greenberg, The Jewish Way

All that lives must die.
So the grasses wither and the leaves will fall in the face of the oncoming winter.
And yet, abundant life is the work of the earth.
Life is the ultimate, infinite value of the human being.
In this world, death is the ultimate contradiction of the Eternal, that which "delights" in life, and strives towards human fulfillment.

"Zochreinu l'chayim--Remember us unto life,
Melech chafetz b'chayim--O King who delights in life,
V-chatvenu b'sefer ha-chayim--And inscribe in the Book of Life."
--Amidah for the Days of Awe

In the desert mountains, the storms are fierce; lighting dances on the mountain front, tearing winds howl through the canyons.

But the rains of autumn also bring life-giving water to the soil, and the first frosts work it deeper into the ground, shifting it, covering the falling seeds, preparing it for new life to come.

And the sun, not so fierce as in the summer, shines again, a blessing of light and a promise of warmth even as the cold season approaches.

"V'hinei Adonai ohver . . . and, behold, Adonai passed by, and a strong wind rent the mountains; and broke in pieces the rock before Adonai, but Adonai was not in the wind.

And after the wind an earthquake, but Adonai was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake, a fire, but Adonai was not in the fire.

And after the fire, kol ramamah dakach . . . a still, small voice.

And it was so . . . "

--Malchim Alef (I Kings: 11-12)

The Days of Awe, intense and powerful.
The Shofar's wild cry;
The deep and dark U'ntana Tokef;
The solemn confidence of the Avinu Malkeinu.

But the Presence of Life was vouchsafed already to me,
in the dawn-turned jeweled beads of the recent rain upon the ever-green pinyon pine needles.
In the moment of quiet; the soft ramamah sound; the last drops of last night's life-giving rain.

"When death is present, someone steps forward and, through the recitation of the Kaddish, testifies that this
family has not yielded to crushing defeat . . . the Kaddish affirms that the [Eternal] kingdom of total wholeness and total life
will be brought speedily into being, preferably in this very lifetime."
--R. Irving Greenberg, The Jewish Way

"Magnified and sanctified be the Great Name . . .
May abundant wholeness and completeness rain from the skies,
with life's goodness for us and for the whole House of Israel,
Now, in our own day and our own time . . ."
--Kaddesh d'Shalem

1 comment:

Retriever said...

Beautiful! Your observations and the quotes a great blessing to me at a very trying time in our family's life. Thanks! I love the image of a desert storm and the terrible lightning and life giving rains. And a God who brings life out of the midst of death and despair.