When we think of Elul and then the Days of Awe we immediately think of Teshuvah. Most obviously this involves taking stock of our behavior to one and other and of course not only. However the gift that is our New Year has a much more powerful meaning and with it an opportunity. Of course we need to amend our bad ways and improve them. But this should not need to wait for a once a year event. If we were serious about how we behave we should focus on this all year round.
Over and above calculating the balance sheet of good and bad deeds we have the opportunity before Rosh Hashanna to consider the wider meaning of our lives. Are we achieving all that we can? What is our true mission, personally, from a family and community perspective and of course at a national level? This is the deeper meaning of “returning.” Returning to the core mission statement and reminding ourselves that throughout the year there are many winds that can and do blow us of course. Elul and the Days of Awe are the opportunity we have to re-chart the course, and perhaps even consider new ones.
I chose the verse from Isaiah for a heading as I was considering again what this might mean. Literally it means that we seek God where he is to be found. Let’s consider what that might mean for each one of us. Seeking the Divine, or eternal or perhaps more generically the transcendental can seem like an impossible mission.
Far too big to be able to fathom.
However we can read something different into it. Wherever we seek it, that transcendental experience may be found. Perhaps that inspiration is much closer to us than we consider. Whatever our beliefs we all seek meaning and purpose. This verse is telling us that it can found wherever we look. More than this it means that each person may find it in a different place. We all need to seek our unique path in life, fulfilment and meaning is going to look different to each of us.
At Gesher we empower people to see that each and every one of us has to chart his or her path to meaning; that each one of us has a unique contribution to make to Israeli society and the Jewish people. This is the moment to take stock and check that we are on course and making the impact that we believe we are capable of, and doubling our energies in order to bring our dreams to life.
This past year has seen great strides in our work. We continue to develop serious and influential leaders in Israel society who are appreciating the need to act in order to build a cohesive society inside Israel and deepen links with the Diaspora. We continue to build programs that are bridging the gaps between Haredi society and wider Israeli society, a crucial mission. And of course we continue to work with thousands of officers and students on the importance of our diverse society and how it can be harnessed for greatness rather than be a source of tension.
It continues to be a great honour to work with such an amazing team at Gesher. My personal thanks and best wishes to them!
Wishing you and all your families a happy, healthy and successful New Year!