This upcoming week, we finish up the High Holidays by saying “Good Bye” to the Sukkot. We then finish up reading the Torah, have a big celebration, and then roll it back to the beginning and start reading all over again. Disney isn’t the only entity that honors the “Circle of Life”.
Many might ask, “Well, we’ve read the Torah once, twice, maybe three times already. Why read again?” Because every time we read it, we see something new.
Every time we read it, it has new information, and new message, something we might not have seen before. It’s not that we missed it for some reason, but rather because having read it before or being a year older and wiser, we now have grown to the point in which we’re ready for that particular insight or understanding. Perhaps even more to the point, we’re more in a position to be able to use that new knowledge appropriately.
It’s always nice how the Torah relates to our lives in both specific and general ways. In a very general way, this whole process of the High Holidays/New Year is teaching us not just the tactics of how to live our lives (halacha, morality, mitzvot) but also the strategy. There is a certain process and meaning that connects all the dots.
Judaism is not just a circle, but it is an upwards spiral. When we come full circle, we are in the same place and at a higher level. We have grown throughout the previous year. We’ve had new experiences and challenges; as we’ve followed the mitzvot and commandments, we have gained a deeper understanding of how to navigate our lives.
So why do we study the same Torah over and over again? Why do we recite the same prayers (read: affirmations) over and over again? Simple: Practice makes perfect.
The very positive aspect of all this is that there is always a second chance. We need, however, to qualify this a bit. Everyone makes mistakes; that’s because we’re all human, we have imperfect bodies in general and nervous systems in particular.
When we make a mistake, we do two things: we acknowledge the error, and then we take steps to correct it. That’s a very positive process. Remember—and this bears repeating—if we are flawed life forms, then we’re bound to mess up every now and then. It’s endemic. The whole purpose of life is to grow and evolve. If we didn’t, there’d be no need to exist.
This is why in Judaism our concept of forgiveness is different that the common perception. Like our correcting an error, correcting sins is a similar process. It’s a tough process, and that’s why we have a three-week process.
In order to be forgiven, we must first repent. This is why as in the weekly “Shemonah Esrei” or “Amidah”, the prayer for repentance comes before the prayer for forgiveness. In fact, the prayer asking for greater understanding and knowledge comes even before that. So first we have to understand that we did something not right, want to correct it, and then ask for a second chance.
This is our “Circle of Life”. This is why pencils have erasers and word documents have back and delete buttons. Its also why I read over my sermons a few times and even the Rebbetzin to check me. As I do in all things in life. LOL
The other concept of the “Circle of Life” is, of course, the circle. A circle has no end and no beginning. It goes on endlessly.
But our “circle”, again, is a spiral. Our circle goes up and up and up. Our lives are constantly evolving to a better purpose because we value the commandments. Our lives get better because we have this yearly introspection, the original “New Year’s Resolution”.
May this year bring you all prosperity and fulfillment and may you all be sealed in the Book of Life.