Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Sarah Tuttle-Singer

The Book of Life has more than one author

Yesterday, the kids and I did a little accounting.

Not the regular kind.

But an accounting of the soul – heshbon nefesh, we say in Hebrew.

It’s always important, but these days especially in the span of time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when the Gates of Awe are still open, the Book of Life still unwritten.

“I want to put a note in the Wall,” my daughter told me, but I was still shaky from a two day stint in the hospital dealing with neurological challenges from Long COVID, and struggling.”

“Why does it matter what we do now?” my son asked “If we believe God decides and is writing the Book of Life?”

It was a fair question. And I thought about it.

“Because we are God’s partners here on earth,” I answered. “And I believe we are the co-authors of the Book of Life.”

“Soooo…. We get to help decide what happens next?”

Yes. We do.”

“Like staying home from school and eating ice cream and watching Wayne’s World?”

“Nice try, dude.”

But still,  it fell over me like starlight or sparkles or confetti… we are God’s partners here on earth in our lives, and I need to lean into this.

And so, I dusted myself off, and we went to Jerusalem.

We went together through Jaffa Gate, past the pigeons, down the main artery into the market, then through the open spaces of Muristan.

We turned right then left, and headed down into the beating heart of the Holy City.

We went together through the streets we know from a millennia ago. We went together through shafts of sunlight and pools of shadow, my daughter clutching her note, my son a little skeptical about the whole thing, and me – out of breath and tired, my body heavy but my heart beating – floating – and refusing to give up.

I placed my hands on the stones of The Little Western Wall and let my mind unspool. I thought about my mistakes. I thought about my missteps. I thought about the times I could have been kinder, or more forthright…. Less self serving, more generous.

And then I let it go.

I thought about what I WANT this year – how to make it a better one, a gentler one, a year of abundance of health and hope and growth.

And I leaned on the wall – so close to the Holy of Holies, to the center of the universe – and then, I felt IT lean toward me, and I knew for certain that what I told my kids is true:

We are not passive characters in the Book of Life. We have a say in what happens to us, in what we do and how we choose to be in the world.

The pages are still blank. The Book is still open.
There is more than one author: God, and each one of us, in a dialogue together about how the story will take shape.

So, Gmar Chatima Tova – May we finish with a good seal.

And may we partner with God – with all our heart, all our soul, and all our being – and also, with one another – to make each of our stories as spectacular as possible.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel, She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems. She now lives in Israel with her two kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors and talks to strangers, and writes stories about people. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She also loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.