Roller-Coaster During Yamim Noraim / ימים נוראים

These Days of Awe –  ימים נוראים have been very challenging for me so far. Is the Universe trying to tell me something that I refuse to hear? Right after Rosh haShana my body started to give in somehow. Yesterday, I decided to defy the pain and walk to a Community Beit Midrash Kick off at Mechon Hadar.  I just couldn’t possibly miss a       pre-Yom Kippur class by my favorite teacher.

I walked through this city that after almost twenty years I still cannot call my own. I was trying to observe this weird place, its architecture,  its people, its behavior. New things appear that I didn’t see – ugly cement barriers blocking human traffic even more being put at intersections all around Times Square  to prevent vehicular attacks – a sad sign of the times.  New buildings rising where one would not imagine there is one more square inch of space. New Yorkers walking regardless of traffic signals and tourists staring around  with all time in the world to spend on these crowded, dirty but exciting streets.

One cannot really be indifferent to New York; it somehow manages to stir emotions within you. Different emotions ranging through all their spectrum but emotions nevertheless.

Going uptown streets become slightly less crowded, less exciting without huge billboards of neon-flashing ads, but more inviting. Along these streets, I went to a place I used to love to come to when it was called “My Most Favorite Dessert”. Now, it is “My Most Favorite Food“, which is better reflecting my lifestyle these days. Planting myself for a quick dinner on the terrace, I couldn’t help but think about this city’s loneliness. Plenty of people are dining alone all over it. Did we forget how to share each other’s company?

Dinner for one
In this city for one
In this world caring for itself
Only in singular

What was I doing besides eating a salad? Learning, of course! Reading through a timeline reflecting Jewish life within the Muslim world, a new interest of mine.

What a wise decision it was to go to a class! It was awesome.

What do you think about when listening to the shofar standing in the quiet shul full of people for a change? Is it Gd, Himself speaking or Moshe? Or, is it your own voice hidden somewhere within the cacophony of sounds that make Jews see them as opposed to hear?

יד  וְכָל-הָעָם רֹאִים אֶת-הַקּוֹלֹת וְאֶת-הַלַּפִּידִם, וְאֵת קוֹל הַשֹּׁפָר, וְאֶת-הָהָר, עָשֵׁן; וַיַּרְא הָעָם וַיָּנֻעוּ, וַיַּעַמְדוּ מֵרָחֹק.

14 And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.

(Shemot 20:14)

Talking about the great shofar and the still small voice, listening to an amazing hevruta – a writer whose name I don’t even remember, I kept thinking that if Gd is where we allow Him to be then we, humans, represent all of those sounds of revelation. From the great shofar to the still small voice within us. If we are not able to hear either one of these, how can we absorb both the great and awesome and the soft and intimate Voice of Gd?
I came home elated, totally forgotten about the migraine ready for a miracle.

This morning I was not able to even raise my arm, cried of pain. Only now, after several pills and a rude realization that my aching body is trying to tell me something, and I am entirely incapable of understanding, I am able to use both hands more or less.

I am hoping to yet be able to hear those sounds – from the great one to the thin one. Both within me and outside of me.

Let us all try to listen.


G’mar Chatima Tova!


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