It is the day after Rosh Hashanah, another day of review.I remind myself of all that i could be grateful for- perfect fall weather, my children at home, excellent meals,good health, and the awareness of having been granted another year of life. Perhaps the greatest gift of all was the opportunity to visit Jewish patients-and some who weren't Jewish-at a local hospital and bring the sacred and plaintive sounds of the Shofar, sounds of home and synagogue,into a space of sterility,loneliness and fear. Since retiring from the pulpit ,it has become my Rosh Hashanah tradition to perform this act of Bikur Holim-visiting the sick, with my son Jeremiah, at the beginning of each New Year.
I recite the blessings, including the "Sheheheyanu-"thanking God for another year of life, and Jeremiah competently and caringly sounds the Shofar- Tekiah,the note of confidence, Shevarim, three brief blasts suggesting brokenness, and Teruah, short stuccato sounds reflecting the wailing that arises in our heart in the face of life's many hardships and trials. Tears of loss and yearning fill patients' eyes but with the Tekiah Gedolah-the prolonged tekiah blast at the end, sorrowful faces find the courage to smile, a glow of festival joy gleaming in their eyes.
I see a face of gratitude and I am grateful beyond words.
I am touched by the High Holyday service-its music, poetry, its majesty. Nothing touches me more deeply that the words of thanks from frightened hearts that feel the peace of Rosh Hashanah's sweetness if only for a fleeting moment.
"Shehecheyanu-" we gratefully thank the Source of all life for the precious gift of life. Amen.