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Opportunities to Fly: A Rosh Hashanah Kavannah

Rabbi Deborah WaxmanThere I sat, 30 feet in the air, on a bench less than two feet wide, trying to imagine how I could ever push myself off of it. I had come to Camp JRF to celebrate—with more than 400 other Reconstructionists, among them campers, parents, alumni, staff, rabbis, donors—the dedication of the beautiful new eco-village, and stayed overnight for a camp board meeting the next day. What had ever possessed me to ask if I could go on the zip line that spans camp’s lake?
Though I knew I was secured by multiple methods, every muscle was tense, and I gripped the bench tightly, leaning back hard into the firmness of the tree’s trunk. When I looked down, I was overwhelmed with dizziness; when I closed my eyes, I felt fear. Beside me, Jake, the director of Etgar (challenge), softly spoke all kinds of encouragement.  Jake is also a rabbinical student at RRC, my former student, and was supremely reassuring, powerfully pastoral. But ultimately it was up to me to move—somehow.
Then I looked up. The view ahead was expansive—the sun glistened on the lake, the tree tops in the distance looked majestic. There was, I knew, aDeborah Waxman ziplining hidden creek behind the far tree line, which I would see from above—if I could ever get myself to move. My perspective suddenly shifted. The world is full of beauty. I believe that the universe is organized to support and hold us. I could witness evidence of that support—in the safety tools we use to strap the campers in, in the team of staffers who had gotten me up the tree and would catch me on the far side of the lake, in my fellow board members who would welcome me back to the meeting. Suddenly, in a second I can’t quite recall, I had lifted myself off the bench and was flying joyfully across the lake!
On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate the birthday of the world. When we sing together Hayom harat olam, today the world was created, we affirm the potentiality that exists all around us, the miracle of creation renewed again and again.  We are a part of this gorgeous universe, composed of potential. The high holidays invite us to shift our perspective. We review our actions and renew our commitments. May this season be rich with reflection and growth, and may this year be full of health and sweetness, and maybe even opportunities to fly!

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