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The Fall Feasts starting with Rosh Hashanah are behind us. A new year has begun. As a highlight, the shofar wass blown at Rosh Hashanah festival. Wake-up call. The Torah gives no special reason for blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. The famous Rabbi Rambam (Maimonides) has said that blowing the shofar is like saying, “Wake up! All who sleep, wake up! Remember your Creator, G-d!”
We started the year cheerfully, and as a symbol of the sweetness that awaits us in the new year, we ate apples with honey. This is a tradition that shows that there is hope. When we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we also look back: how was the past year? How did I behave? Have I been kind, or have I also been disobedient? Have I helped others, or left them out? Of course we will do our best to behave (even) better in the new year and to interact (even) better with others! These are words used by Noa Naor, mother of three who lives in Jerusalem with her husband, in her article “Rosh Hashanah and Sweet”.
On Rosh Hashanah it is tradition to eat sweet bread, a round sweet challah. Jacoba Spijker-Kort has prepared a delicious recipe for a sweet challah for us. In order to look back on a year in which we tasted the sweetness of Adonai. And to look forward to a new year in which we hope to receive the sweet, the grace (chèsed) of the Eternal. The sweetness of the Lord in his wonderful love for those who know Him can be found in the poem by Els van der Bent. The sweetness in life is not so easy for everyone to experience in this world. Think of the war in Ukraine. Many people die, are injured, lose their homes. A terrible sorrow and suffering is taking place in that country.
Another poignant example of misery in the world is a specific suffering by young girls, which Cisca Mudde describes. Fortunately, there are many people today who are committed to changing this; that is their part in bringing back sweetness. In two articles I have attempted to show the sweetness of Adonai, in a portrait of Karine Elharrar, the female minister of Infrastructure, Energy and Water in the Israeli government of Israel. She suffers from muscular dystrophy. See His impact in the non-disappearing Jewish identity which some are worried about. May the sweetness of Adonai be in our hearts, to give us strength to carry it out in this world. Let us take time for prayer and supplication.