In the middle of this month of August we will enter the Hebrew month of Elul, which tells us that the New Year is just a month away. The daily sound of the shofar this month wakes us up to the fact that it is time to tie up loose ends, right the wrongs, and get ourselves spiritually ready for the Ten Days of Repentance.
There is a verse in the Torah (Lev. 26:10) which says, “You have to clear out the old to make room for the new.” Is this the Torah’s way of saying we have to let go of the past in order to embrace the future? For a people who are sustained by memory, this would be an odd lesson from our most sacred text! Memory and the past form who we are and who we may become. We do not want to break from it, as much as we might want to grow beyond it. We remember the suffering and the martyrdom which our people have endured, as this is a part of us.
What the Torah may be trying to teach us is something that transcends any one time period in the Jewish journey, even the Holocaust. Perhaps the lesson is not in actually letting go of the past but, rather, in clearing out some of the debris from the past which has been inhibiting our growth. This way we can make a place for the new. We have the opportunity to take hold of the past and to transform it for the future.
One of the names for Rosh Hashanah is Yom Hazikaron, the day of memory. Let us open ourselves up to a shift in attitude, to allow this transformation. As the saying goes, “If not now, when?”
L’hitra’ot, until next time!