In these remaining days before Rosh Hashanah, I offer some thoughts from our new machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh (Sanctuary of the Soul). These thoughts are found in the Rosh Hashanah Morning Service, at the very end of the Amidah, during our moment of Silent Prayer. It is a section entitled “Prayer of the Heart.”
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Hear the sound of the shofar!
You who are caught up in the daily routine,
losing sight of eternal truth;
you who waste your years in vain pursuits that neither profit nor save.
In what ways do my heart, mind, and soul need to be awakened by the shofar?
What truly matters to me? What makes me feel that my life is significant?
Am I too often wasting my most precious possession – the minutes, the hours,
the days of my life?
You are everything that we praise You for:
slow to anger, quick to forgive.
Have I been slow to anger? Quick to forgive? What would my loved ones say?
Does anger interfere with my relationships?
Am I impatient at home? Am I intolerant with colleagues and friends?
Avinu Malkeinu, may we taste anew the sweetness of each day.
Renew for us a year of goodness.
Where do I find moments of sweetness and beauty?
As a new year begins, where will I devote my best energies?
How can I bring more goodness to the lives of others?
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In this Season of Teshuvah, it is my hope that all of us may turn inward with complete focus and attention, so that we may examine our behavior and motivations over this past year with honesty and courage. May we renew our strength to improve where we have fallen short. And then, may we, with full humility, seek to repair the fissures in our relationships with others, and clear up any misunderstandings. May we have the courage to seek forgiveness where it is appropriate, and grant forgiveness in turn. And may the coming year be for us, for our People, and for all who dwell on Earth, a year of peace.