Every year I go into Rosh Hashana wondering, “How am I supposed to feel about this holiday?” Should I feel happy, sad, excited? We go to our places of worship, schmooze a little, and hopefully listen to an inspiring sermon. Then in our prayers, when we ask God to write us in the Book of Life, we are actually asking God for another year of life, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel so meaningful. So, I think I finally figured it out. Let me tell you a story.
Last Spring I went to see the Blue Angels. That’s the acrobatic air show the US Navy puts on with their jets. I was on a friend’s 145 foot yacht sitting in the middle of Annapolis harbor on a gorgeous day; waiters on call, open bar, surrounded by close friends. Then, for an hour the jets were flying around, doing all of these acrobatic moves in the air. At some points, the planes were so close I thought I could touch them. It was an amazing show! I couldn’t of asked for a better day.
Then, while I was driving home, it occurred to me that something was missing from the day. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Later that night I finally figured it out.
Have you ever been somewhere and suddenly a fighter jet will fly overhead unexpectedly? It has happened to me numerous times; sitting at the beach, once when I was skiing in Vail on opening day and many times when I am in Norfolk near the naval air base. Now, in these instances the jets are just flying, not doing any fancy air acrobatics, but do you know what the difference is?
They have missiles under their wings.
At any moment, the pilot can push a button and you don’t exist anymore.
That’s what Rosh Hashana is supposed to feel like.
At any point in our lives, God can just decide it’s our day to die. Watching the blue Angels is nice, but unless they have missiles under their wings, you might as well be watching a paper airplane. The awe that we feel when that armed fighter jet is flying overhead is the same awe we should feel when we are going into Rosh Hashana. Asking God to write us in the Book of Life for another year means that we understand that the difference between life and death is not only just the push of a button, but also our relationship with the Almighty.
This year, go into Rosh Hashana realizing that your life is in God’s hands. Your Rosh Hashana will never be the same again.