In the Talmud, Masechet Berachot, Rabbi Levi presents to us this problem: It reads in Psalm 24, “The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord,” but it also reads in Psalm 115, “Heaven is the heaven of the Lord, but the earth He gave to the sons of men.”
How do we reconcile these two statements? Does the earth belong to God or to man? The rabbis tell us that before we have recited a blessing over something, it belongs to the Lord. After we recite the blessing and acknowledge its true ownership, then it is made available to us.
God has given us a wonderful world and He wants us to enjoy every good thing in His world. So, every day of the year we acknowledge God’s beneficence. But on the High Holy Days, with their emphasis on ending one year, and beginning anew, our sense of awe and gratitude is even more heightened.
The High Holy Days are a time to take stock of who we are, to be appreciative of what we have, to measure our strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures and to be hopeful for our futures. It is also a time for thanking God for everything you have and asking Him to help you to be all you can be.
This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone. We have lost loved ones, we have suffered illness, we have had our jobs, our family life, our social life and our religious lives altered by the Covid virus. I pray that times will get better sooner than we expect. Let us thank God that we are alive when so many have perished.
May this be a good year, a sweet year and a year of heath for all of us.
Rabbi Graber leads Temple Hillel in North Woodmere.