I've started a new book, Toward a Meaningful Life, and I wanted to share a piece giving a fantastic overview of the Holidays we find ourselves in the midst of --
On Rosh Hashana, we learn that we have the power to still the trembling world and assist in the birth of a new one. The tremors of the old world are the birth pangs of the new. It is within our power to help bring about that rebirth, by taking steps to renew our own spiritual lives (xiii)
The message of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is that renewal is possible even after loss and destruction.... Rebirth can be more powerful than the initial birth. The first revelation of the Law on Mount Sinai took forty days, but Moses spent twice as long to persuade G-d to yield to his entreaties and replace the broken tablets. The effort required to rebuild after destruction is much greater than the work of building in the first place. But the rebuilt structure, when it is finally completed, is stronger than the original and can never again be destroyed...Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the year because it is the day when life's essential element, Hope, was born. The message of Yom Kippur is unequivocal: even after great loss, we can repair, rebuild and regenerate... Yom Kippur makes clear how we can achieve these things: by connecting to G-d, to immortality (xiv-xv).
The festival of joy, Sukkot (Tabernacles), follows in the wake of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur with a vital lesson of its own for today's difficult circumstances. Joy is an external sign of the soul's innate celebration of life. Awareness of our indispensable purpose, that we are connected to our Divine mission, is cause for celebration. Conversely, if we are cut off from this awareness - that is, if we feel that our lives lack purpose and direction - we are prey to feelings of insecurity, fear, uncertainty, and despondency... The joy of Sukkot is an extension of the hope born on Yom Kippur. Joy cannot be experienced to the fullest until we have encountered loss and begun to recover, as happens on Yom Kippur. With hope regained, after our broken spirits have revived and we have started to rebuild after loss, we celebrate (xvi).This is only the beginning of the book. I'm looking forward to reading and learning more!