Preparing for Our Date
When you make a date with a member of the opposite sex, how do you prepare? Don’t you clean up, trim your beard, fix your hair, apply some good-smelling stuff, put on some nice clothes, and make sure you arrive at the proper place at the proper time?
Why do we go to such great lengths putting on our best when we meet with this person? Well, we want to make a good impression. We want him or her to think well of us, and find us desirable to be with.
If we take such care to look good and smell good for another human being, shouldn’t we go to even greater lengths to prepare ourselves for meeting with our Lord? Should we not mark our calendars so we know when we have a date with Adonai? Should we not determine in advance where we will meet with him? Should we not take care to look our best, smell our best, and dress our best, so we show up properly prepared for our date at the appointed time?
Absolutely. All these tings are important, as we demonstrate outwardly our desire to put our best foot forward for our date with the King.
But even more crucial, we need to prepare our hearts and minds for these dates. When we make a date with a man or woman, we spend hours standing in front of a mirror, practicing our smile, our facial expressions, and even some of the topic sentences we might use to keep the conversation going! In other words, before we ever arrive at our date, we are demonstrating an attitude that communicates, “I care!” to the person we are going to meet.
As the Fall High Holy Days approach, let us take some time to similarly prepare for our “date” with the Creator of the Universe. Meditate on the imagery and the significance of the metaphors we are about to apply to the Unseen God—
Let us eagerly anticipate hearing the shofar blow on Yom Teruah.
May we take on the appropriate solemnity as we contemplate the just judgment of the King on Yom Kippur, and long for the day when he brings true righteousness to all the world.
Our hearts should skip a beat as we look forward to Sukkot, with its symbolism of eternally dwelling in the very Presence of the Almighty One.
There are many ways we can enhance our appreciation and understanding of the festivals. Ponder some appropriate scriptures about repentance and restoration. Borrow a siddur and contemplate the words that will be said as part of the “S’lichot” liturgy. Meditate on what it means that we “cast our sins to the bottom of the sea”.
Some of us seem to spend all our energy arguing over fine details of the festivals. Whose calendar is more “right”? Who calculates the date better? Who has gone farthest in the witch hunt to root out alleged pagan influences in our traditional celebrations? Who can be the most “prophetic” by hurting the most people in the name of our religious practice?
Perhaps this can be the year that some of us stop feeding our own egos, and come before Hashem with an attitude of humility and repentance. As we ponder the significance of the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah, repent to our fellow creatures during the Yomim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”), and stand before the Holy King, the Just Judge of All the Earth on Yom Kippur, let us keep in mind that all the rituals in the world are meaningless if they are not performed from a motive of love for all.
Let us prepare our hearts properly in advance, as we would for a date with a beloved friend. May this year’s Fall Festivals be the most significant celebrations ever, leading to unity and peace within the body, rather than selfish ambition and pride over how “right” we can be.
“Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad (Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one); and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart; and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them on your hand as a sign, put them at the front of a headband around your forehead, and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates.
Don’t take vengeance on, or bear a grudge against, any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai.
(Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18)
Good words with which to start a good new year, don’t you think? May your date with our Beloved Father and King be meaningful this year, and lead to many blessings for all of us in the Body of Messiah.