In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Vayeilech, Moses is getting ready for his death. He says, “I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer be active.” He prepares his final words for the Israelites, encouraging them to be strong and brave in the face of what is to come. Yom Kippur too brings up thoughts of the finality of life. This is partially due to the Yizkor service itself, but also because of the heavy nature of the liturgy, and the physical reminders of our mortality as we abstain from food and drink.
The New Year stretches before us, and the Torah of our lives for this coming year lays open waiting to see what we will write in it. Will we make the lives of those around us easier or harder? Will we have our say in how others are treated, in how our planet is treated?
A prayer from the Mishkan T’filah for the House of Mourning speaks to me especially in this moment of personal contemplation:
Let us treasure the time we have,
And resolve to use it well,
Counting each moment precious – a chance to apprehend some truth,
To experience some beauty, to conquer some evil,
To relieve some suffering, to love and be loved,
To achieve something of lasting worth.
Help us, G-d, to fulfill the promise that is in each of us,
And so to conduct ourselves that generations hence
It will be true to say of us:
The world is better, because for a brief space, they lived in it.
Shabbat Shalom, L’shanah Tovah, and G’mar Chatimah Tovah,
Cantor Sally Neff