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This is what I will be saying Saturday at our synagogue…
There is something truly remarkable about Judaism that I think is not widely appreciated. If you read the Torah with fresh eyes, you’ll see that G-d first makes the world, and, after Eden and Cain, He waits for mankind to seek Him, to talk to Him.
But we don’t. Instead, we follow our desires, we tend toward violence and selfishness. In a state of nature, there is no deity beyond natural pagan forces themselves.
What is remarkable is that G-d has a need: He is not content with mankind living our lives, blissfully unaware. G-d wants more. He wants us to talk to Him, to pray to Him, to reach out and connect. G-d seeks a partner in this world. He craves a relationship with US. He wants US to similarly seek a relationship with HIM.
Which is why He destroys the violent pre-Flood world. He disrupts the misguided Tower of Babel. And he cultivates a relationship with our forefathers and mothers.
But I don’t think He wanted it to happen like that. I think it is clear that Hashem ideally wants us to seek Him first. The reason He reached out to Avram is because the status quo was not moving the world forward.
Today, G-d challenges all of us. Indeed, some have said that a Jew who does not have hardships may not actually be Jewish. Because G-d gives us hardship as a way to make us willing to change and grow, to seek Him and to confront the ugly reality that we have plenty of room for improvement.
But once we DO reach out, THEN He can reciprocate. And when we seek Him, because we are partially spiritual creatures trying to reach out to a G-d who has no material form, we have to seek him using our spirits: our thoughts, our words, our prayers, our songs.
Most importantly, we have to mean it. It is not enough to just say words, to just dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s. It is not even enough to meticulously observe the commandments. Indeed, arguably doing the right thing but without thinking about it is not at all what G-d wants!
Think of it like a marriage, or a partnership of any kind. Going through the motions but without love, without desire, without conversation and relationship is not right at all. G-d, above all, wants us fully spiritually connected.
When we get there, G-d lets us know He is there. He gladdens our hearts. He delivers what we refer to as “kisses” – moments of serendipity where we know things could easily have gone another, much less desirable, way – but did not. If we reach out with our hearts and souls, then G-d connects to us in the same way.
Rosh Hashanah is an amazing opportunity to start the courtship all over again. We get to go back in time, and restart: we call out, as Avram did, in the name of G-d. We recognize that He is the King – we make him our king. We get a yearly do-over, to turn over a new page and rekindle the oldest love affair in the world: G-d and the Jewish people.
So as we start Musaf, please have this in mind. We are not merely going through the motions. We are crowning a King, reaching out to Him to start this year anew. And we are doing it with every spiritual bone in our souls.
Good yomtov!Published in