Rosh Hashanah 5775
Livnot Bnot Sherut Ashrina Chen Leibowitz reflects on the meaning of Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year of 5775.
“Stop your crying!” “You’re such a baby.” “Do you want me to give you something real to cry about?”
All these are sentences we hear throughout the world, usually said towards children but often toward adults as well. Why does crying have such a negative response from the people around us? Why do I find myself in situations where I’m stopping my tears from flowing because I’m embarrassed? I mean, isn’t crying one of the most natural ways of expressing emotion? For example; a new born cries the second he enters our world. And did you ever hear the nurse say to the baby; “oh stop crying you little brat?” Of course not!
In “the Book of Numbers” in the Torah, we read the story about the 12 spies who were sent to scout out the land of Israel as a future home for the Jewish people. During their tour of the land they saw some things that frightened them and led them to believe that the Israelites would not survive in the Holy Land and came back to the Jewish people carrying a false report. When the Israelites heard what the spies had to say they began crying and weeping and G-d said to them; “you cried over something so foolish, I will give you a real reason to cry that will last for generations.” Our sages teach us that “crying for generations” meant the destruction of the Temple.
So the Temple was destroyed because of a few tears? Maybe the tears are not the problem but the meaning behind them? The Israelites wept over the false belief that G-d was setting them up for defeat. They wept over the betrayal they felt. They had lost hope.
Many different things can make us cry; physical pain, joy, laughter, self-pity, being frightened, being tired, and more. But one reason I want to point out is when we cry from having a broken heart. How many times have you laid in bed crying and wondering why he/she broke up with you? Or asking yourself how can this person that I love so much leave just like that because of some idiot who ran a red light? Or some sickness that had no cure. You know… When a vessel is full, closed up and sealed; it can’t be filled with more, it already has all it can contain inside it. No room, no opportunity to grow. But when something is broken, when there is a little crack in the vessel, there is space for the light to shine in; and even the smallest ray of light makes everything brighter!
I feel like the prayers of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are an opportunity for us to shatter our vessel, to really feel the longing and the pain of being so far away, so disconnected from ourselves, disconnected from our family and friends, separated from our truth, from our freedom. To let the tears stream down our cheeks, to cry not from a place of self-pity or hopelessness but from a place of heartbreak, a place of real love and care, a place of being a cracked open vessel that just wants one small ray of light to shine in so it can be full of the great light these awesome Holy Days hold for us.
So, I want to bless us all with tears of heartbreak, and with the humility of being an open vessel and expecting all the light that will hopefully shine in.
Ashrina Chen Leibowitz