A High Holiday Message from Rabbi Lever

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins recounts the following story of the Buddha in his book Moments of Transcendence: Inspirational Readings for Rosh Hashanah:

The Buddha’s disciples turned to him one day and asked: “Are you a god?”
“No, I am not a god,” he answered.
“Then are you an angel?” they asked.
“No,” answered the Buddha, “I am not an angel.”
“Are you a prophet?”
“No, I am not a prophet.”
“Then,” they continue to press him, “Who are you?”
To this the Buddha replied, “I am awake.”

When we hear the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, it is a moment that captivates our attention. As Maimonides taught, the shofar is the ancient Jewish wake-up call to heighten our awareness and engage in intense self-refection.

This year as we hear the shofar, let us be inspired by Rabbi Naomi Levy’s prayer for self-renewal from her book Talking to God:

A Prayer for Living Up to the Best in Our Souls

You have blessed me with many gifts, God, but I know it is my task to realize them. May I never underestimate my potential; may I never lose hope. May I find the strength to strive for better, the courage to be different, the energy to give all that I have to offer.

Help me, God, to live up to all the goodness that resides within me. Fill me with the humility to learn from others and with the confidence to trust my own instincts.

Thank You, God, for the power to grow. Amen.

Shanah Tovah — This year may the sound of the shofar penetrate to the depth of your soul. May its sounds heighten your sense of awareness, purpose and meaning, so that you may inscribe yourself in the Book of Life through your inspired words and actions.

-Rabbi Aaron M. Lever, BCC
Director of Spiritual Care