“And the seasons they go ‘round and ‘round. And the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on a carousel of time. We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came and go ‘round and ‘round and ‘round in the circle game.”
Joni Mitchell’s song keeps going ‘round and ‘round in my mind as I write this in the dead heat of summer and look ahead to the days of fall. Before we know it, the weather will cool and the leaves will begin to turn and the Jewish month of ELUL will call us to blow the Shofar and prepare for the High Holy Days.
In addition to the spiritual and historical meanings of all the Jewish holidays, the calendar cycle is intimately tied to the earth and the turning of the seasons. When our ancestors were farmers they watched the moon to plant and sow, to bring in Shabbat and celebrate the holidays, and they “came close” to the source of all blessings through the offering of their produce and their livestock. In our post-modern world, we are no less dependent on nature’s gifts cycles than our ancestors were three thousand years ago; we’ve just put so many layers between us and the earth that we often lose the connection. Judaism brings us back to the organicity of our lives; celebrating with the cycle of the moon, connecting with the seasons through the sights, sounds, smells and foods of our holidays and staying conscious to the transitions throughout our lives. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur help to remind us, not only “from where we came”, but where we are and where we are going.
I hope you will join us on the High Holy Days, and of course throughout the year, as we celebrate the transition from this past year into the next and we use the ancient wisdom and rituals of our people to take an ever so important spiritual accounting of our lives.
May you all have a sweet and blessed entry into the new year of 5773.
(A niggun is a wordless melody. This niggun is attributed to the 18th century chasidic Rabbi known as the Maggid of Mezritch.)