“You can’t go home again.” -- Thomas Wolfe
“All that God desires is your return.” – Babylonian Talmud
September represents a rare opportunity to change our destiny. In spite of the passage of a year and the erosions of time, God grants us, through these holidays, the ability to turn back the clock and reverse the natural order of things. The greatest purpose of this unique season is to allow us a second chance—to give us the ability to go home.
The Jewish High Holy Days are a time of spiritual elevation, religious intensity, and ritual beauty. Everything is at an improved level, from the music to the sermons to the shine on the wooden pews. Expectations rise: perhaps this explains why this period is known as the High Holy Days…
In fact there are many names for the two most religiously powerful festivals of the entire Jewish year that fall during these Yamim Nor’aim, the Days of Awe, which incorporates the Aseret Yemai Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Repentance, the time from Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, through Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These specific holiest of days have multiple names, too: for Rosh HaShanah they are Hayom Harat Olam the birthday of the world, Yom haZikaron, the Day of Remembrance, Yom Teruah, the Day of Shofar blowing, and Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment; Yom Kippur is also called Yom Tzom Kippur, the fast Day of Atoning, and Shabbat Shabbaton, the Great Sabbath of Sabbaths, while the evening service beforehand is often known by the name of its signature musical text, Erev Kol Nidrei.