Sermonette Ne'ilah: 'Veheyeh B'rachah' - Be A Blessing

Sermonette Ne’ilah
Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz

‘Veheyeh B’rachah’ – Be A Blessing. 

A blessing is a curious thing. To be a blessing even more so. A blessing is not a gratuitous gift. A blessing is not an indulgence, a luxury of the soul. A blessing, rather, is that great synthesis between joy and covenant. We cannot be a blessing: to ourselves, to our households, our communities, the Land of Israel and to the world entire, if we do not find our sense of purpose

No other argument in Judaism – of fear and loyalty, of continuity and cohesion – will be compelling in today’s world, where choice is a fractal upon fractal of more choice, where we have a thousand doors to open and a thousand reasons to walk away. 

This is why ‘veheyeh b’rachah’ and ‘lech lecha’are intimately connected. 

The fulcrum is the land we are to be shown and the blessing to the families of the Earth that we are called to be. How we can ask the question of how we can give back to this great religious civilization of ours, spanning continents and millennia, providing us with a blueprint for sacred living, inner transformation and a just and peaceful society?

In the words of Pirke Avot: it is not up to us to complete the task but nor are we to desist from it. 

We stand here poised, on the mountaintop. The gates of heaven are still open, but we know our time is short. 
As we are standing here, overlooking the sacred image of a redeemed world, the light is already starting to turn as the day fades. The gates are creaking, little by little, on their hinges. We are given a glimpse of all that the world couldbe. Of all that the land is: the paradox of the known and the unknown, a good and beautiful land, overflowing with milk and honey. Where the lion lies down with the lamb and the little child guides them all. 

Take the time to imagine this world, brought on the wings of our fasts and prayers, through the work of our t’shuvah. Let us close our eyes and imagine it. Dream of it, pray for it and work towards it, this world without want, without war, where we are a song in the symphony of humanity. ‘Veheyeh b’rachah’ – to be a blessing.

Merciful God, may You bless the fruits of our lips, the service of our hearts and the work of our hands. From this Yom Kippur to the next. With blessings of renewal, of faith against a brutish world, of light cast against the walls of darkness. Of a ‘kol demama daka’, a still small voice that charges us to go – wherever this wondrous journey may lead us.

G’mar Chatimah Tovah– a good sealing, a sweet New Year, with prayers for sins forgiven, selves transformed, relationships repaired and worlds redeemed. Ken yehi ratzon. 

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