Queen Esther & Rosh Hashana!

Friday, 23 September, 2022 - 8:15 am

Rosh Hashana is upon us and in fifty-eight hours we will usher in 5783. It’s always an auspicious time for us to rejuvenate, recenter, and reenergize ourselves, allowing our past inadequacies to be disregarded, our future to be infused with optimism, and to remain anchored in the present moment. It’s the Day of Judgment, it’s our trial, where G-d will assess if we are deserving of a sweet year and I, as a loyal rabbi and spiritual defense attorney, am confident that indeed G-d knows who we really are and knows we are worthy of His mercy and will welcome us back into His home.

I was thinking about this on Tuesday when our Shul was host to a discussion with Diane Nilan of Hear US and activist Pat LaMarche to discuss childhood and teenage homelessness in our country and in our local Bozeman community. It’s heartbreaking to realize that there are teenagers, elementary age kids, even toddlers who go home to their parents’ car every night or perhaps live with unhealthy relatives or worse. Every American child should have a place to call home and we must ask ourselves how is it that our children’s classmates don’t have the basic security of shelter? I’ve always cared for the homeless but homeless kids? That’s unfathomable and wrong.  

I read a Chassidic anecdote about Reb Yosef of Yampala (Yampil, Ukraine) who would be the “Makri”, the pointer in Shul on Rosh Hashana, directing the one blowing the Shofar to the individual blast order in the prayer book. Before he’d begin he would commence with a verse from the Scroll of Esther, normally read on Purim, “ And it came to pass when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she won favor in his eyes, and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter” and with that the Shofar blasts would begin.

Why bring Purim into Rosh Hashana? It seems odd. Yet, there was deep meaning here:

The King is G-d, the Jews are the queen. We married at Sinai, got a Ketubah which is the Torah, and though we have ups and downs, the King never forgets His bride, He never forgets His vows, and when we stand at His inner chamber seeking to enter, He extends His scepter and brings us in to His place of joy and happiness. Like a loving spouse, He chooses to forget that He was upset at us for our mistakes and says, “forgiveness is welcome”. Rosh Hashana is not a time for depression or sadness, we don’t need to give up or check out, we don’t need to be scared to “face the music” in Shul, we just need to show up and say, “Dear Heavenly Father, I have sinned, we have sinned, I recognize that, and want to come home, please allow me back”.

Rosh Hashana is our reminder that as Jews we do have a real home. No matter where we’ve journeyed, no matter where we’ve lost our way, no matter how many nights we’ve slept in the car or on the streets, we can come home with an inner cry to Hashem, an inner Shofar blast, informing Him that we want in, we want to do better and that we want spirituality to be active in our challenging lives. Yes, we are scattered and busy, yes, we are overworked and underpaid, but no, we don’t want to lose the most cherished relationship of all, the one with our Creator. G-d isn’t always happy with us, no parent is always happy with their kids, but every healthy parent wants to stay in touch and have their child come home when they are ready. G-d is no different, so knock on His door and He will undoubtedly welcome you, His bride, home and celebrate you with romance and kindness, ushering in a New Year of love, commitment, and lots of catching up.

Don’t miss your court date, the Judge has a bias and it’s for you! Shana Tova!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Mashiach speedily. May G-d protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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