“OK, only around 750 pages left.”
Guilty as charged. I’ll admit it: there are a few moments every year in shul during the Yamim Nora’im in which I find myself impatiently glancing at my watch or childishly thumbing through my machzor, comforting my grumbling stomach with the knowledge that the amount of pages that remain are continuously dwindling.
All of my distractions dissipate immediately though when the chazzan cries out unetanh tokef kedushat hayom, and let us recount the holiness of the day. The pace of my heart quickens along with the words of the prayer as I try to strike the difficult dual balance of love and of fear that its words beckon. I am reminded that on these holy days, who will live and who will die is sealed in irreversible ink. I am made aware that the very fate of the world is being determined and I stand as one single sheep among the b’nei maron, the entire flock.
Who will pass at the right time and who will be taken too soon…as the prayer grows increasingly specific, I find myself reflecting on the individuals I knew, both on a personal and national level, who passed on that year. My heart begins to break today for the moment which will arrive in half a year from now when the words mi ba’esh, who by fire, will fill the shul and we will all remember Ya’akov; age 5, Sarah, 6; Moshe, 8; Yehoshua, 10; Rivkah, 11; David, 12, and Elian, 16, the seven beautiful children of the Sassoon family who were taken far too soon when their home was engulfed in flames this past Shabbat.
Continue reading at Times of Israel.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.