We celebrate Shabbat Shuvah this week, the Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur,
Shabbas Shuvah in one way is no different from any other Shabbat. Other than the fact that we add some prayer to the Amidah and that we don’t recite Avinu Malkenu on Friday night, it’s a regular Shabbat. But we know that on some level it is not. Shabbas Shuvah is named after the special Haftorah, which begins with the words, “Shuvah Israel,” “Return, O Israel,” from the prophecy of Hoshea. Shuva is also very close to TE-shuva, repentence. Long ago, Shabbas Shuvah was only one of two times a year when the rabbi would give a sermon. Does anyone know what was the other Shabbat? Shabbat Hagadol, the first Shabbat immediately preceding our festival ofPesach.
We read the brief but powerful Parsha of Vayeilech, the shortest portion of the Torah (someone must have known. . . ). Three times in this portion we read “Be strong and resolute.” And before we can ever say, “But I am not sure I can,” we read a verse that tells us, “And God will not fail or forsake you.” What becomes clear over the ten days of Repentence is that we cannot do it alone.
Whether you locate God in your most authentic core or you locate God in the Jewish community or you locate God in the historical traditions that bind us or you locate God in our Temple family, we know that we can only reach the Promised Land TOGETHER.
A Shanah Tovah.
Rabbi David Grossman
Rabbi Joshua Grossman