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Entering the Season of Books

Posted by Rabbi Ron Symons on August 31, 2015

As our finger tips scroll through the rest of the summer weeks listed on our phones, we are preparing to enter the season of books. Our students are anticipating the end of summer reading assignments – so many pages divided by so many days… ‘I can do this… tomorrow’.

Our business leaders are preparing to close the books on the 3rd quarter of 2015 and open them for the 4th. Our Pirates fans are looking at the record books to see if we have a chance of making the playoffs (better than having to win a ‘do or die’ wild card game). Our summer beach goers are making their way through the stack of summer books, moving them from the ‘to-read’ pile to the ‘read’ pile. There are so many books in our lives.

I personally spent a good deal of time actively involved in my books as I moved my library to the Second Floor of the Robinson Building. In some cases, I glanced at the cover and faintly remembered the lessons learned within.

In other cases, I opened to worn pages on which I took notes and was transported back to my college and rabbinic school days, back to lessons I learned with so many students and teachers all inspired by the words written in the books of my life. I am sure that you have similar books on your shelves.

Of course, Jewish Wisdom teaches us that we are entering the season of books. In particular, the season of the Book of Life when we are encouraged to open the book of our life, to read its words, reflect on past experiences and write the next chapter. The new Rosh HaShanah prayer book published by the Reform Movement captures the value of this season well:

Your Book of Life doesn’t begin today, on Rosh HaShanah. It began when you were born. Some of the chapters were written by other people: your parents, siblings, and teachers. Parts of your book were crafted out of experiences you had because of other people’s decisions: where you lived, what schools you went to, what your homes were like. But the message of Rosh HaShanah, the anniversary of the creation of the world, is that everything can be made new again, that much of your book is written every day – by the choices you make. The book is not written and sealed; you get to edit it, decide what parts you want to emphasize and remember, and maybe even which parts you want to leave behind. Shanah tovah means both a ‘good year’, and a ‘good change’. Today you can change the rest of your life. It is never too late.

Rabbi Laura Geller (b. 1949)
In Mishkan HaNefesh, Machzor for the Days of Awe, Rosh HaShanah. CCAR Press, New York, 2015/5776.

This is an invitation from generations past with hopes that generations yet to be will embrace it:

  • Open the Book of YOUR Life. Open the Book of OUR Lives.
  • Celebrate what others did yesterday so that we can imagine tomorrow.
  • Be ready to embark on a good year and a good change: a Shanah Tovah.

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