I want to begin today with a few, inherently incomplete, ‘thank you’s–
Thank you to all of you who joined us and brought your whole selves to the spiritual work of teshuvah over the last ten days.
Thank you to all of our service leaders, torah-readers, haftarah-readers, shofar-blowers, chair setter-uppers, handout-printers, childrens service-takers, floor-sweepers, meeters-and-greeters, parking-helpers, machzor-tidyers and more.
Thank you to our amazing security team who devote part of their holiday to protecting us– a responsibility whose importance we were sadly reminded of coming out of Yom Kippur to hear that there had been an attack on a German synagogue.
A special thank you to Ruth Rabin, our indefatigable gabbai, together with her team– who spend literal months planning every detail of our services and coordinate every page-turn and ark-opening seamlessly.
Yom Kippur is exhausting. Though I felt surprisingly energetic yesterday evening (perhaps the siren call of food), I can feel the mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion of yesterday’s marathon prayer party this morning. Despite that, and with a tinge of resentment, I woke up this morning, fetched the metal poles, vinyl walls, and bamboo roof of our succah from the shed, and got to work setting it up in the garden. Technically– I was already late! Most halakhic sources insist that we’re meant to begin building the succah as soon as the fast ends. So in theory, you should have come home last night, and rather than indulge in your chosen break-fast treat, begun constructing a succah in the dark!
The practicalities are absurd of course (the next morning is good enough for me)– but the idea is a good one. The reason those sources insist that we begin building the succah immediately after Yom Kippur is so that we can go from one mitzvah to another. There’s an old phrase that mitzvah goreret mitzvah– one good deed leads to another. Whether that means we’re succah building in the dark or simply building on the momentum of Yom Kippur to dedicate ourselves to our goals for this year– we should use the inertia generated by the Ten Days of Teshuvah to propel us into a new year, in which every good deed, each mitzvah, will be followed by another.