The Jewish New Year and Rabbi Kushner’s Lessons and Love

A New Year can bring a new way of looking at the world.

This week, Jews all over the world observe the High Holidays, the beginning of a new year in the Hebrew calendar. We wish each other a Shana Tova — a good year, a healthy year, a sweet year.

The High Holidays ushering in the year 5776 are especially notable in the life of Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen To Good People.

It’s his 50th anniversary of standing before the congregation of a synagogue in a suburb of Boston to deliver a sermon on Rosh Hashanah.

The 80-year old spiritual leader whose wisdom and insights have given so much comfort to so many, has published a new book this month, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life.

These “things” learned include:

*God Is Not a Man Who Lives in the Sky

*Forgiveness Is a Favor You Do Yourself

*Some Things Are Just Wrong; Knowing That Makes Us Human

*Religion is What You Do, Not What You Believe

*Leave Room For Doubt and Anger in Your Religious Outlook

*To Feel Better About Yourself, Find Someone To Help

The book concludes with Kushner’s “Love Letter to a World That May or May Not Deserve It.” He writes,

Dear World,

We’ve been through a lot together over the past eight decades, you and I — marriages, births, deaths, fulfillment and disappointment, war and peace, good times and hard times … There were days when you were more. There were days when you looked so achingly beautiful that I could hardly believe you were mine, and days when you broke my heart and reduced me to tears.

But with it all, I choose to love you. I love you, whether you deserve it or not (and how does one measure that?). I love you in part because you are the only world I have. I love you because I like who I am better when I do. But mostly, I love you because loving you makes it easier for me to be grateful for today and hopeful about tomorrow. Love does that.

Faithfully yours,
Harold Kushner