22/23 September 2023, 8 Tishrei 5784

This week sees us reading the last portion of Deuteronomy as we hover between the new year and Day of Atonement over Shabbat Shuvah. As Moses, prepares for his own death, he recalls and reminds the Israelites, on God’s behalf of their past and their future. The tension is touching 

If they were wise, they would understand this; they would reflect upon their fate. 

ל֥וּ חָֽכְמ֖וּ יַשְׂכִּ֣ילוּ זֹ֑את יָבִ֖ינוּ לְאַֽחֲרִיתָֽם

Rather than considering their lives, they are urged to consider their past and the temptation they had and then they are given a reminder of why regret followed by commitment is so critical

כִּי לֹֽא־דָבָ֨ר רֵ֥ק הוּא֙ מִכֶּ֔ם כִּי־ה֖וּא חַיֵּיכֶ֑ם וּבַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֗ה תַּֽאֲרִ֤יכוּ יָמִים֙ עַל־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה 

For it is not an empty thing for you, it is your life, and through this thing, you will lengthen your days upon the land.  

As I said on Rosh Hashanah, building for our next seventy years of Finchley Progressive Synagogue life is just this. Don’t forget to join us for the first of the Renewing our Home evenings Saturday 23rd at 5.30p.m.!  

How extraordinary to read these words now as we hover in this time and place, considering our lives. Rashi comments on the weight of the word ‘empty’ and suggests the people were being reassured of the importance of this reflection and its lifegiving properties.

On Saturday morning, before the service, we will have Book Club – reading the first part of Danya Ruttenberg’s Making Amends in an Unapologetic World and a chance to reflect a little before Yom Kippur begins. Then our Shiur on Yom Kippur will continue such conversations on the themes of regret and return. Yom Kippur will be filled this year with opportunities for conversation and also reflection through music. Our own beautiful musicians have been preparing and honing our liturgy and Daniel Dolan will play Bruch’s Kol Nidrei with his father David accompanying him at the start of Sunday evening’s service. Abigail Dolan will bring reflective pieces on her flute for marking the stages of the Musaf in the Additional Service on Monday.  

I so look forward to sharing this all with you.