> Holidays > The High Holidays > Rosh Hashanah > Themes

The Days of AWE-some

September 18, 2019 | by Jody Berkel

Three awesome things about the Days of Awe.

Why are The High Holy Days, The Yamim Noraim, which include Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Teshuva and Yom Kippur, called The Days of Awe?

Each Jewish holiday gives us a different spiritual energy to tap into. The Jewish view of time does not go in a circle, like a merry-go-round, rather it’s a spiral. Hopefully we’re not just going through the holidays, we’re growing through the holidays. The Days of Awe, like all the other Jewish holidays, have its own power embedded in the days, and we want to be able to access its awesome power.

Here are three awesome things about The Days of Awe.

1. Rosh Hashanah: Get in the Game

We all know why we celebrate Passover – because that’s when God freed the Jews from Egypt. On Shavuot we received the Torah. What exactly are we celebrating on Rosh Hashanah?

A number of years ago, I was sitting in a High Holiday program and the Rabbi at the front challenged the congregation, “Jews, what are we celebrating today?” The hands shot up, “The Jewish New Year”, “Apples and honey” and my favorite, “We won, let’s eat”! Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know the answer. What exactly are we celebrating?

The holiday brings us back to the very beginning of creation when everything existed only in potential. What brought this awesome potential into purpose? Us! Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of mankind, so happy birthday to humanity!

At this time of year we have the ability to tap into the energy of renewal and break free from a past that may be holding us back. Because on this day, we go back to the very beginning; there is no past to hold us back!

The key to this time of year is to seize the opportunity God is putting in front of us, to figure out what specific role you want to play in the upcoming year.

Rosh Hashanah is called Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment, but what exactly are we being judged on?

What type of person, parent, child, employee, Jew do I want to be this year?

On Rosh Hashanah, we turn inward and focus on our personal goals for the upcoming year. What type of person, parent, child, employee, Jew do I want to be? There is a new year, a new world being created and the question we all need to ask ourselves is: what position do I want to play in the game of life? That is the judgment God is making on Rosh Hashanah.

I looked at my own growth in Judaism in terms of a baseball game. For a long time, I was a spectator watching from home on TV – I wasn't in the game or involved in my Jewish community. I was proud to be Jewish; I was cheering for “my team” but I wasn’t on the field; I didn't have any real skin in the game.

I wanted to learn more about Judaism, so I bought a ticket to the game. I started to experience what it felt like to be part of the team, by learning more about Jewish wisdom and taking on a couple mitzvahs.

Still, the nosebleeds weren’t doing it for me. I wanted to get closer but I was still in the stands – and greatness doesn't happen in the stands. I needed to get in the game.

At this time of year God is looking down at us and saying, “You want to join the team? Figure out what position you want to play and let's go. On Rosh Hashanah we recognize, we are here for a purpose and it's time to step up to the plate.

God is rooting for us; He's here to help us knock it out of the park!

2. Making God King

The theme of Rosh Hashanah is making God King and re-dedicating ourselves to His Kingship. What’s so awesome about that? Well to me, if God is King then I’m not in charge, He is! Recognizing this fact is a game-changer for the upcoming year. We can give up this sense that everything is in our control and the whole world rests on our shoulders.

God has His job and we have ours, and we sometimes get the two confused. We think we are in control of everything, and when things don't seem right in our eyes – someone has more money, someone is smarter, more successful, more talented than me – we think, That should be mine! God must have made a mistake.

We look around the world trying to understand everything that's going wrong, getting stressed out, anxious, jealous, depressed, frustrated, all because we're attempting to do God's job.

It’s not our job to fully understand why bad things happen to good people. It’s our job to help when bad things happen to good people.

Part of crowning God our King is to humble ourselves. As powerful and as amazing a role we have to play in this world is, we are not God.

It's not our job to perfect the world according to our vision. It's our job to do what we can to fix the world according to God's vision.

Part of crowning God our King is to humble ourselves. As powerful and as amazing a role we have to play in this world is, we are not God.

It's awesome to have a King because the bigger we make God in our lives, the smaller our worries become!

3. Yom Kippur: Day of Forgiveness

For 40 days, Moses pleaded with God at the top of Mount Sinai to forgive the Jewish people for worshipping the Golden Calf. That 40-day period began on the first day of the month of Elul and culminated on Yom Kippur, when Moses came down with the second set of tablets, signifying that God had forgiven the Jewish people.

Yom Kippur is an awesome day of attaining Divine forgiveness. We can approach God and express remorse for messing up and falling short. We own up to our mistakes, commit to fixing the error and do teshuva, repentance, which means making things right and getting back on course. It's a recalibration of the soul.

And like any parent whose child comes forward to apologize and admit they were wrong, God immediately forgives us, and even more incredibly – He erases the past as if it never happened. Our record is expunged.

And if our mess ups involved hurting others, we also need to make things right with them and apologize.

Yom Kippur reminds us that God is always here for us; He loves us and wants more than anything to have a relationship with us! And when we mess up – and we all mess up sometimes – we have the opportunity to make things right. Totally AWE-some!

The Days of Awe offer us a unique opportunity to recalibrate and with Hashem’s help return to who we are meant to be in the world, because it’s not about becoming someone else, its’ about becoming our best self.

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