Dear Kol Tzedek Community,
What an incredible journey of song and spirit the High Holidays have been. Thank you, to each and every person, who made it and made it happen - who sang and prayed and greeted and moved chairs and food shopped and so many more things. In particular to Jeremy, Leor, and Nadav and the entire High Holiday committee. I have been riding a wave of gratitude and awe.
When I was a kid, I had a bumper sticker on my journal that read, "Change is the only constant." I am not sure where I got it, or even why I chose it at the time. I certainly did not really understand it. And I have spent my entire adult life trying to reconcile and accept this fundamental truth. Many of you heard me wrestle on Kol Nidre with its deepest implication, our mortality.
In Buddhist terms this truth is best captured in the teachings of impermanence. And in Jewish terms, Rabbi Michelle lifted up this wisdom during children's services on Rosh Hashanah with the phrase, "גַּם זֶה יַעֲבֹר , (gam zeh ya'avor), this too shall pass." We picked up on that at the first day of Torah school when we made mind jars full of glitter and talked about how our feels themselves are fleeting. And I have noticed that I don't want this feeling of awe and gratitude to pass.
One of the most amazing traditions at Kol Tzedek is the epic nigun jam at the end of Neilah. I know at least some if not many of you are thinking at that point, aren't these people hungry? Hasn't there been enough singing? And while on the one hand I agree, what most of me knows is that "this too shall pass." The desire to be fully immersed in song and spirit is only possible after weeks, days, hours, so many minutes of song and prayer. And the desire, the palpable pull and energy itself, will pass. But for a moment, let's let it linger. And we do, for, say, 15 or 20 amazing minutes.
Which is precisely why Jewish tradition teaches that you should put the first nail in your sukkah when you get home from Yom Kippur. There is a wise desire to capture that energy and stay with that spirit. Sukkot is described as Tzman Simchateinu - Our joyful season! Through Sukkot we get to celebrate not only the harvest of the earth, but the spiritual harvest of the Yamim Noraim. And we get to savor it all. Knowing, that it too shall pass.
Because, ultimately, Sukkot is also a celebration of impermanence. We build temporary houses in this liminal season and camp out in community, lingering in the joyful expression of our souls that Teshuva makes possible.
I wish you all a restful Shabbat and look forward to seeing you in the Kol Tzedek sukkah in the week to come. Eager to reenter the loving community that we generated together on Yom Kippur.
Rabbi Ari Lev
P.S. Many of you have asked for copies of my High Holiday Divrei Torah. You can find them all here, thanks to Rowan! Please feel invited to share them with people in your lives.
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek Synagogue through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.