September 23, 2023 ()
In just a few days, on the Jewish New Year known as Rosh Hashanah, the blast of the shofar will be heard. The High Holidays are a time that we Jews gather in prayer and concentrate on introspection. They are a time in which we give thanks for the ways we have been blessed and seize the chance to improve our relationships by making amends. During these Days of Awe, Jews acknowledge the Almighty as the creator and ruler of the universe, renew and strengthen their commitment to a spiritual way of life, and pray for a sweet, healthy and peaceful new year.
During Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, as well as the days in between, Jews pray to be shown the mercy of our Creator’s forgiveness. They stand before the Omnipresent, knowingly sullied and impure, hoping that their supplications are enough to override any ways in which they have fallen out of favor. In this day and age, I’d like to offer a word of caution to all Jews: If the Almighty’s grants us a place in the Book of Life in spite of our misdeeds, let’s not squander it by getting overly obsessed with the advanced technology that life has to offer. During these Ten Days of Repentance, it’s important that we remain focused on the spiritual, without getting consumed by all of gadgets, gizmos, and pleasures of the physical world.
During the High Holidays this year, let’s remember the true source of wealth – inner happiness and peace of mind. Let’s remain focused on the individual path we will aim to traverse this year, both spiritually and physically. Our Creator has given each of us our own unique potential to see through, independent of any outside influences that may hinder or enhance our efforts. He is watching to see what we will accomplish on our own, and how many rungs we will climb upon our spiritual ladder. AI and technological developments like it or not truly have no part in the equation. The only things that matter are the ways we hold ourselves accountable and show ourselves to be morally responsible in this world.
This last year was one of hardship for people everywhere. Too many of our friends and neighbors continue to struggle in the wake of difficult health and economic challenges. And beyond our borders, many of our closest allies face the uncertainties of an unpredictable age. As the High Holidays begin, however, we Jews look back on all of the moments during this past year that have given us reason to hope. Around the world, a new generation is attempting to heal from the pandemic and its consequences, endeavoring to tackle challenges by focusing on what really matters – education, friendship, family and community. As Jewish tradition teaches us, we may not complete the work, but that must not keep all of us from trying. In that spirit, I wish you and your families a sweet year full of health, happiness, peace, and accomplishment.
L’Shana Tova Umtuka – Happy and Healthy New Year 5784!