This is time of year filled with awe and wonder. We stand on the edge of a new year, looking back on the one which has passed and looking forward to the future. It is a time of anticipation and reflection, filled with memories, hopes and dreams.
Our Torah portion this week mirrors the cycle of the calendar year. The Israelites stand together with Moses at the top of the mountain, looking forward to the land they are about to inherit. The future is stretched out before them, an amazing tapestry of possibilities which they consider with excitement and joy. At the same time they are looking back at the road they have travelled; their miraculous escape from Pharaoh, the years of wandering in the desert, their mistakes and achievements, the moments of triumph and the times of sadness, transgressions and misdeeds.
Moses, the man who has led them on their epic wanderings is preparing for his own death, preparing for the moment when he has to leave his people in the hands of a new leader. He knows these will be amongst his final words, his last chance to leave an imprint upon them. The Israelites are gathered together, all in one place, together with the generations who were and those yet to be, to listen to the voice of their past and move towards the future.
On Sunday night we celebrate Rosh ha-shanah the time when we, like the Israelites, will gather together and move into our future. We will great the new year with all the possibilities it holds. But before we cross to a new land, we like the Israelites spend time looking back on the past, reflecting on its lessons, recalling its joys and its sorrows. We too remember those who are no longer beside us but whose presence we continue to feel. We recall the triumphs and glories as well as the moments of degradation and sadness. And we undertake a process of cheshbon ha-nefesh, soul searching, where we repair our relationships and ourselves so we can walk into the new year and all its possibilities, refreshed, cleansed and ready to begin again.
May the new year be sweet, filled with blessings, beauty and endless possibilities. Shabbat Shalom.