Monday, September 28, 2009

L'Shanah Tovah

At last night's Kol Nidre service I was struck by a paragraph of commentary in the prayerbook written by Richard Hirsh. He commented on the liturgical sentence
וכתב לחיים טובים כל־בני בריתך
And write for good life all the children of your covenant
Hirsh asked, "What is 'good life'? Is it doing good? Feeling good? Being good?"

The day does ask that question, and also answer it.

Half of the answer is found in the mood of the service itself. A good life focuses on worship and community instead of the self. A good life includes music, family, and an identity with a sense of timelesness.

The other half is found in other parts of the liturgy. Later, while thinking about turning from evil thoughts and ways back to God, we read part of Lamentations 2:19:
Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.
A good life includes emptying the heart of evil so that we may receive God's spirit.

In other words, a good life begins by receiving good from God. Through repentance we receive purity. Once we have purity we do good, feel good, and are good.

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