O God, I see it now, and my sick brain
Staggers and swoons! How often over me
Flashes this breathlessness of sudden sight
In which I see the universe unrolled
Before me like a scroll and read thereon
Chaos and Doom, where helpless planets whirl
Dizzily round and round and round and round,
Like tops across a table, gathering speed
With every spin, to waver on the edge
One instant-looking over-and the next
To shudder and lurch forward out of sight-

There is a picture of my father and Uncle Noach zt”l on my desk directly in front of me as I write and learn. They continue to be powerful influences on all I do and yet, I miss them terribly. It is scary to think back to last Rosh Hashana and consider that God decided on that day that my uncle would die before the end of the year. I am frightened when I consider that God not only inscribed His decree for Rav Noach, but that He also included its effect on me and each of the thousands of people affected by Rav Noach’s death. At such moments, I experience the feelings described by Edna St. Vincent Millay in the poem above.

We naturally reflect on all the experiences of the past year as we review our actions and life in preparation for the Day of Judgment. Many of us are breathless when we consider that so much was determined last Rosh Hashana. More so, we are often terrified as we wonder and anticipate what will be inscribed for the coming year in our “Books of Life”.

We are not the first to experience such dread of the Day of Judgment:

They read in the book, in the law of the Lord, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading. Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites who taught the people, said to all the people, “This day is holy to God your Lord. Don’t mourn, nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Don’t be grieved; for the joy of God is your strength.”
(Nehemiah 8: 8-10)

The natural reaction or anticipation of the Day of Judgment may be to tremble, but Nehemiah and Ezra taught us to rejoice so that God will rejoice with us, and strengthen us. The essential ingredient of Rosh Hashana is the joy we feel when celebrating life’s adventures.

The Foundation Stone and The Foundation Stone Blog are happy to share tools to help us all celebrate the infinite possibilities of life. We hope you will celebrate with us.(There are far too many posts to list them all here.) Of course, we hope you enjoy all our regular offerings: The 5th Haftarah of Consolation, Table Talk,Mishlei: Tools of Intelligence, The Profundities of Torah by Rabbi Yochanan Zweig, The Voice of Torah by Rabbi Chaim Goldberger, The Torah Connection byRabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg, El-Ad’s Na’aseh V’Nishma, Rabbi Shmuel Brazil’s From The Rebbe’s Tish, Heshie Haggibor’s The Healing Touch, and Bentzion of Medizboz’s Stories of the Baal Shem Tov and Keter Shem Tov.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg

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