Harry Zeitlin
Grateful Every Day, Modeh Ani Lefanecha!

A Thought For Rosh Hashana 5781

The Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5 teaches of one who saves a life that he is as if he saved an entire world, Olam Maleh, עולם מלא. Although halachically, this leaves many questions open, it does make the point that each of us comprises the entirety of a world.

Yeshiyahu, Isaiah, 6:3, states that God fills the entire world, מלא כל הארץ, with His Presence (often translated as His Glory). Note the similarity (albeit not exact) in language.

Each of us, an Olam (or Eretz) Maleh, an entire and complete world, has the capacity of being completely filled with God’s Presence. A very Chassidic (based on Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, aka The Kotzker) sort of qualification is called for here, if we let Him in.

Our “normal” operating mode has us usually filled with distractions, flitting from idea to idea, from deadline to deadline, from crisis to crisis, from the needs of one to the needs of the next in line (and perhaps that only when we’re at our “optimal” efficiency and organization. We’re so conditioned to this constant motion that even when we’re in a situation where we can sit quietly and let our mind settle we continue, out of habit, to bounce all over the place.

But what better time and place than Rosh HaShana, an entire day with little else to do but to meditate upon God’s Majesty, where the theme of they day is to “Coronate The Creator”, with special liturgy based on this idea, to quietly remove all the distractions and to, truly, let our entire beings be filled with the actual Presence (kavod, the word selected by Isaiah, is the same word we use in, say physics for gravity (koach ha-kavod, the power of kavod) of The Creator.

Rather than be overwhelmed by wave after wave of words, most of which even those of us fluent in Hebrew don’t really understand, worrying about catching up to the arbitrary page the Chazzan is at right now, perhaps let yourself be lulled by the melodies and music, the idea (especially this year when many of us will not be able to experience the actual embrace of a loving community) and try to fill our infinite capacity as humans with the appreciation of the Infinite Being of Holy, Entirely Other, Sacred Creator.

May we all merit many future years, vibrating at our highest capacity and awareness. Tizku l’Shanot Rabot.

About the Author
After almost 30 years, Harry Zeitlin returned home to Jerusalem! Growing up in Denver, CO, he began Torah studies at an early age. He also had the privilege of knowing and studying with Rabbi Shloime Twerski zt"l. He graduated from Yale College (BA 1974) with an independent degree in communications, theory-and-practice, focusing on filmmaking and linguistics. Harry had a 45+ year career as a professional artist (photography, to which he is just now returning!) and has played guitar for more than 50 years, in addition to his 30+ years as an orthodox rabbi teaching Torah across the denominational spectrum. He lived in Israel from 1982 - 1989 and returned in 2016. I'M BACK! Grateful every day! Follow his spiritual adventures. He is always available to speak, teach, present a Shabbaton or other workshop. ......or to serenade your group with his guitar.
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