Summer is on the wane; the daylight hours imperceptibly shorter one by one as the month ticks by, and Earth speeds on in its orbit. Around the meeting point of summer and fall lie our great holidays: Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Sh’mini Atzeret.
Metaphorically, spring symbolizes birth, summer—growth and productivity, fall—the onset of old age, (the harvest of our years), and winter—death. As we transition from summer to fall, these holidays provide an opportunity to reflect back on our lives. In realizing that life’s harvests are fixed in number, we might well ask ourselves basic questions regarding their value.

  • How have we used the precious time allotted us over the past year or years?
    How successfully have we been able to balance what we want and what we need?
    How considerate have we been of those around us?
    Have we taken them for granted?
    Shown a lack of patience when tested?
    To what degree have we put their needs ahead of our own?
    How have we conducted ourselves in the workplace?
    To what degree has the desire for profit obsessed us?
    Have we valued those who put their trust in us—our employer, workers, clients and customers?
    Have we been willing to admit our mistakes?

In perceiving our individual lives as being a loan from our Divine Creator, to what degree have we:
Demonstrated our appreciation for the chance to experience this incredible universe?
Recognized the limits of our own understanding—despite the amazing achievements especially in the field of technology?
Found time to gain an understanding of our tradition; expressing a value to those who may no longer be occupy a place in this world, but who have given immeasurably to where we are today?
Used our successes to “give back” to the world in which we live: to relieve the suffering of others in our community and elsewhere?
In spending our time together in meditation and worship, we have the chance to examine and, if need be, redirect the course of our lives so that the coming year will be a true source of joy to others and ourselves!
May you and those around you be blessed with a year filled with sweetness and inner peace! May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life!

– Rabbi Mordecai Miller