ED: The following is a excerpt from the story, “Rabbis Share Sneak Previews of Holy Days Messages” which ran in our Rosh Hashanah Sept. 7 issue.
Rabbi Lori Shapiro
The Open Temple
The High Holy Days liturgy is unequivocal when it proclaims: Ha-Melech yoshev al kisey ram venisah (The King: sitting upon your lofty and exalted throne). It challenges our utopian ideals. If we are supposed to imagine the world as it could be, with our hands as partners in creation, what are we supposed to do with this undeniably anthropomorphic image of God? Enter into the theater of the High Holy Days. Thousands of individuals shlepped to the desert to transform themselves through identity role-play at Burning Man. And yet, we seem to take the High Holy Days so literally, when in fact we are being invited to engage in a similar theater that asks: Who am I? How can I embrace the Other? What wreckage do I need to let burn off?
These High Holy Days, we should let our guards down. “This is real and you are completely unprepared,” Rabbi Alan Lew (z”l) implored us to recount in his book of the same title. Accept the role of servant serving a higher power and stand in radical amazement. Look around — at our houses, clothes, cars, community. There is nothing that any of us uniquely created on our own but our thoughts. There is slavery in this. These Yamim Noraim, role-play through the Gates of Repentance. Stand before that King with fear and trembling. And enter into this year dedicated to the connectivity that comes from being a part of a larger and mysterious system that demands our curiosity, commitment and awe.