The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as Shabbat Shuvah or "Shabbat of Return (Repentance)." The name is a reference to the opening words of the week's haftarah, "Shuvah Israel - Return O Israel." This haftarah is read in honor of the Ten Days of Repentance, the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Talmud tells us: "In the place where the penitent stands, not even the wholly righteous can stand." And the Medieval commentator, Maimonides, added: "The merit of the penitents is higher than that of the perfectly righteous, because the former have struggled harder to subdue their passions."
It is an appropriate and uplifting message as we begin this New year. We all fall short of our ideals and aspirations sometimes. And it's important to remember that what Judaism values supremely is our struggle to overcome adversity. At the top of the spiritual hierarchy are not those naturally endowed with all the right instincts which are hermetically sealed off from all temptation, but those who have strayed and stumbled and fought their way back. As one of my colleagues put it, "Judaism puts a moral premium on the agony it takes to achieve a life of virtue and piety."
Cantor Harrison and I will lead our Kabbalat Shabbat service (6:30 pm) on Friday evening in the chapel. And Rabbi Hirsh and I will lead our Shabbat Shuvah program (9:00 am-12:00 noon) on Saturday morning in the chapel - "Inscribe Us in the Book of Life: Myths, Metaphors and Meanings."
Rabbi Jennifer L. Frenkel
If you wish to have a Mi Shebeirach said during our Shabbat services, please let us know by noon each Friday so we can give the names to the rabbis.
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Congregation M'kor Shalom