Prisons of our own making


Rosh Hashanah, 5776 

We think of Passover as our time of release, but these ten days are even more crucial to your freedom.  Passover is about our people’s emancipation.  These days are about you and me, each one of us one by one by one having our day with God.  It’s personal and everything is being weighed right now. 

The zodiac sign for Tishrei is Libra, the scales of judgment.  One rabbinic commentary teaches us that your greatest accusers during these days of judgment are the soul sparks that have fallen away from you because you failed to make use of your awesome potential.  Your soul sparks become your prosecutors today!  You’re in shock, you didn’t see it coming–And you say, “But I’m innocent?  What did I do?”  And your soul sparks reply in one voice: “It’s not what you did, it’s what you didn’t do…”  Your unlived goodness, your unlived generosity, your unlived forgiveness, your unlived potential is crying out to you today.  Can you hear it?  How do you clear your good name when it’s not a false witness, it’s your own soul that’s testifying against you?

We’ve come here today to hear out our souls accusations, we’re here to heal the very path of our lives.  Because our tradition tells us that it’s possible to be sleepwalking through life and to not even know it.  Yes you can repent for a sin but what can you do if you can’t even see what you’re missing.

It’s possible to be in a prison and to not even know it, to be locked up and to not know the confines you’ve grown to accept.  And the shofar is blowing today to wake us up and help us break out of whatever trap we’ve fallen into.  Like a chick making holes in its shell this is our time, your time, we’re here to be reborn and to shed the shell of whatever is restraining our souls from fulfilling their true mission on earth.  That’s what Teshuva is, it’s getting out of our entrapments, the deadening patterns, the story lines, that seem impossible to break free of, and to come home to our true selves.

The tragedy is, most of us are living inside prisons of our own making, we’ve locked ourselves in.  Some of us are trapped in the prison of ambition,some in the prison of envy.  We are prisoners of fear, prisoners of desire.  Living with cruel jailors, unforgiving, unrelenting jailors.  And all the imagery of this season is about unlocking and opening.  We are here for ten days to learn how to unlock the gates.  We keep praying to God to open the gates, but God is whispering the same words to you and to me, “Pitchu Li” open the gates for Me.  God holds the keys to many gates, but there’s one set of keys that God doesn’t have.  Those are the keys to your heart and to your mind.  God has already unlocked the gates of the upper world, the question is: are we ready to open our gates?  Heaven’s gates are spread open, it’s our gates that are closed!

So count these gates with me, the ones we are here to open:

1. Widen your vision

2. Let go of resentment 

3. Soften your heart 

4. Face down your fears 

5. Turn your intentions into action 

6. Let go of self-defeating patterns

7. Open up 

8. Say I’m sorry 

9. Say I forgive you 

9 days, 9 gates, we are here to unlock them one by one.  The last gate, the 10th gate, is perhaps the most difficult of all.  Every day God keeps knocking on your door “Listen Israel, return my children, open up.”  Our ears can’t hear it, but our souls are taking it all in.  And that’s the final gate, the 10th gate, we are here to unlock, we are here to let God back into our lives and into our world.  Welcoming God back isn’t a scary proposition.  God is saying, “It will be ok, everything will be ok.  You are not alone.  I am with you.” 

It’s a new year, Nashuva!  Are you ready to unlock the gates and step into a new time of blessings?  Sweet days.  Close the door to last year’scurses and the pains of your past.  We are here to get out of prison, to step into a lived life, lived potential, lived goodness

Let’s step into a new reality together with God in our lives… Shana Tova!

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