January 19, 2020

Elul 4: Closing the Distance – Rabbi David Wolpe

Each year as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur approach, we are reminded that sin creates distance. Distance creates factions. So we proclaim the unity of God, but the fractures in our community and in our own souls widen.

Thus, teaches the Sefat Emeth, the first tablets were broken by sin, but on Yom Kippur Moses returned with the second tablets, all of one piece. Teshuva, repentance, had created wholeness again. We create distance when we are afraid, and even more when we are ashamed. Just as sin is a pushing away, love is a drawing close.

To believe in God’s love is to have faith in the ultimate oneness of the world. For if everything is ultimately one, then all distance, all separation, is temporary. E.M. Forster’s famous admonition “only connect” is made here into the law of the universe, into God’s law: draw close to Me, and you will be healed.

May this year help us find our way back to each other and back to God.

Rabbi David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. www.sinaitemple.org