Reflections During Yamim Noraim

Right now we are in the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Yamim Noraim.  The Days of Awe.  The Days of Repentance.

Mercury also moves into Retrograde tomorrow.

I never know what will become emblematic of the year past and the year to come until the holidays are upon us, but there are two things that stuck out to me during the time we spent at shul this week.

The first was a bit of commentary attached to part of our liturgy.  It stated that God does not need our prayers for himself, he needs our prayers for us.  While I don’t blog with great regularity about my faith, I am a praying person.  I pray each day.  For myself, for Marcus, for our family, for our friends, and sometimes even for the people that I do not like very much.  I give thanks for our blessings, I ask to understand how to best steward the resources we have been given here on Earth.  I ask for peace in my life.  The strength to get through a difficult day.

So when I read that God does not NEED our prayers, the first thing I thought was How Arrogant!  Of course God needs our prayers!  This is part of the deal!  We bring things to God, and then God brings them back to us!  Prayer is a dialogue!  And just as quickly as I went through that whole line of thought, I was like…Duh, Katherine.

Of course God does not need our prayers.  Our all-knowing Creator, King, and Judge knows his greatness and might.  He knows the concerns and desires of our hearts, the burdens we carry, the joys we celebrate.  Prayer reminds us that we are not in charge.  Prayer reminds us we are not alone.  Prayer reminds us that it is not all about us.  Prayer helps us to, essentially, get our head in the game so that we are able to be the best we can be for ourselves and one another each day.

The second was from Rabbi Olitzky’s sermon on Day 2 of Rosh Hashanah.  He told us that on these days where we are asking God to give us the benefit of the doubt, we need to look at ourselves and whether or not we are giving others the same benefit of the doubt that we are asking for.

That was a pretty humbling moment.  Because where it is so easy to ask for mercy for ourselves, we can sometimes have the most difficulty finding the mercy to show to others in our daily life.  This manifests in the people we are unable to forgive.  The broken trust we do not want to repair.  The relationships we keep at a distance.  And at the heart of all of this, why do we have no problem asking for this thing that we have no problem withholding from strangers, friends, and family alike?

This year, like all other years, we will have to try harder.  We will need to be more gentle.  We will do better than we did the year before.

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