08 Oct Have a Good Year and Remember
Holy Place, Fire, Prayer, Story
Once upon a time, in a faraway town, a Jewish community learned that disaster was approaching. The Rabbi took his people to a holy place in the forest where they lit a fire and said a prayer, and the misfortune passed the community over.
The next generation, in times of adversity, also went to the holy place in the forest. They said, “We forgot how to light a fire but we know the prayer.” So they said the prayer, and avoided the disasters.
The third generation, when facing a calamity, headed to the holy place as their ancestors did. They said, “We don’t know how to light a fire and we don’t remember the prayer, but at least we know the place. They were saved from evil.
Generations that followed, when their lives depended on a miracle, said, “We don’t know how to find the holy place or how to light a fire and we don’t remember the prayer. But we remember the story.” And remembering was enough to avert a catastrophe, every time.
Apple, Honey, Hope
Remembering is all I have, too. Any day, High Holidays especially, I rely on this Jewish folktale for reassurance that remembering has the power to shape minds, guide lives, infuse strength, to keep the long vanished alive.
In the olden times, one day each year stood out because of a funny dinner menu: the meal began with a apple slice dipped in honey. I didn’t like either but wiggling out was not an option. Then my parents and grandmother showered me with solemn wishes I did not understand and was not to repeat outside family. Not even the word tikvah was exempt, though it only meant pumpkin in Russian. How was one to take seriously a day when pumpkin was uttered solemnly?
That memory visits me often but it never leaves on Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur. And I still smile at tikvah that, I know now, means hope in Hebrew. Many little memories have become genes that aim at the heart, tidy up thoughts, remind of big and small sins to atone for and of gigantic, big and small miracles to be grateful for.
May you and your families be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good new year.