Community Blog Speaking Torah: Hope for Renewal

By Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Tomorrow evening, Jewish communities around the world will gather to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Hope for renewal stirs especially deeply within us during this season.  We imagine ourselves standing before the gates of a new year, before the gates of possibility, repentance, return, and repair.  But of course the real question is whether we will take the risk of unlocking the gates inside of us.  Whether we will step outside the intricate architecture of our own isolation.

There is a dramatic refrain that is included in the liturgy for Rosh Hashanah. Immediately after each blast of the ram’s horn, as the sound of the shofar still echoes in the room, we stand together and say, Hayom Harat olam. “Today the world is born.”

A mythic claim is being made, since, according to tradition, Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world.

But more importantly an existential demand is being made. Stand up, listen, and let yourself see the world with new eyes. Clear away the debris of disappointment and despair. Do not think you are too late, too tired, too weak, too hurt, too flawed. Today the world is born.

The Hasidic master, the Sefat Emet, teaches: “The human being contains the form of the entire world. Each person is called ‘a small world’ since all the world is contained within each of us.”

As we stand on Rosh Hashanah and say “Today the world is born,” we remember that each and every human being is an olam katan, a small universe. May our work in the coming year flow from and toward this awareness that each and every person is a small world created in the image of God – utterly unique, endlessly mysterious, ultimately precious.

Created from one source, we long throughout our lives for connection. May this be a year in which we open the inner and outer gates, so that we may deepen our connection to the Source of all life, to each other, and to our deepest selves.

As we begin the new year, I also want to share information about our upcoming Open House and Day of Learning, Ta Sh’ma (Come & Hear) on November 6 and invite you to share the event link with anyone who might be interested in learning more about our vibrant, pluralistic Rabbinical School community. Ta Sh’ma promises to be an inspiring day of learning, conversation, music and prayer – and an opportunity to meet many of our wonderful faculty and students.

With blessings for a year of sweetness, health, and peace.

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld is Dean of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College.

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