The Torah portion we read on Rosh Hashanah Day 2 discussed creation. We learned that in the beginning, there was darkness and chaos, and that the first of God's creations was light. Our job as humans in dark, chaotic times is also to create light. Our world today has a different kind of darkness, but chaos nonetheless: COVID, and the health risks, fear and death; climate change and resultant fires, floods and weather like we've never experienced; crime in our streets; racism; political unrest; economic hardship. Like our Creator, we must transform darkness to light to improve our world. To right the world's wrongs. And to create art, music and beauty, or at least experience and appreciate them. In Hebrew and in Jewish teachings, Tikkun Olam is the practice of improving the world. Contributing to the common good. Creating a society filled with deeds of caring and compassion, and sustained by justice, integrity and peace. On the micro level, it means building homes, spreading love and strengthening family ties. With all the adversity we currently face, who hasn't thought - Can things possibly get worse? And, why us? Well, when "the lift" gets harder, when the obstacles seem insurmountable, this is where the greatest of opportunity lies. The bigger the challenges, the bigger the reward. The more weight we press at the gym, the stronger we become. When our circumstances seem most dire, we must exercise our individual and collective muscle of love and courage. Our muscles don't miraculously appear, but they develop over time. There are good days and there are setbacks. We are students and learn along the way, sometimes with trial and error, and sometimes making mistakes. We mustn't ever despair, give up or give in. It takes time, patience and working through others to find solutions, repair and improve our world, discover light in the darkness, and to create (and appreciate!) art, music, culture and beauty. Tikkun Olam. This year has taught me so much, and I recognize how far we've come. Think back to March, and compare that time with now. Who hasn't appreciated some introspection and growth during quarantine? I'm grateful for the love of my wife, children, family and friends. For the security and comforts of my home. For the work of others, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and John Lewis, who paved the way for a better society for us all. May their memories be for a blessing and may they continue to inspire us. Things will get better. See, feel and be the light. Shana tova. A sweet and healthy New Year, and may you be sealed in the Book of Life.
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