A New Year’s Letter

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Tuesday, September 15, 2017 / 24 Elul 5777


This will be my last Oasis Songs before the New Year. The following several weeks, our holiday cycle also means that I’ll be communicating with you primarily in services, and will look forward to returning to our shared space here after Simchat Torah.

Everyone on staff has been working diligently toward our common goal of a meaningful and well-ordered high holiday season. It is always heartening to me to see how much care and time our able team of clergy, teachers, administrators, maintenance staff and countless volunteers invest in the days and weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah. In that somewhat frantic rush, it is only to be expected that some details slip by. If your needs have been overlooked in some way, please let us know. Barring that, please accept my apologies for anyway that either I or our team may have let you down. We, like you, are always striving to improve.

Since this is a time of introspection, I thought I’d share with you an interesting book, published in January of this year. Written by Rabbi Daniel Cohen, “What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone? Creating a Life of Legacy” deals with the types of themes this season brings up for us. Some of the questions he raises are:

  1. What would you do if you had 24 hours to live? Why?
  2. What is worth fighting for?
  3. In your life so far, what did you take a risk for or go out of your comfort zone for?
  4. You have five words to write on your headstone. What are they?
  5. When you’re feeling low, what is the song you play to lift your mood and inspire you? Why?
  6. Is there a phrase that you find yourself saying frequently when you’re under stress? When you’re happy or grateful?
  7. What is your favorite bible verse?

By examining these and similar questions, Rabbi Cohen offers us all ways we can “reverse engineer our life.” His goal is that on our death bed, we can celebrate the life we lived. More importantly, considering these sorts of questions can help us ensure that we are more satisfied with our current life as well. After all, the truth is that for so many of us, the day to day tasks, obligations, distractions and nitty gritty can sometimes prevent us from acting on our greatest concerns or using our greatest gifts.

Instead of the Shabbat Table Talk questions that I normally end this column with, I’d encourage you to carry these questions with you throughout these Days of Awe.

G’mar Chatimah Tovah,

Rav D

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