Monday, September 9, 2013

Rosh HaShanah - Malkhuyot, by Carmen Wrenn

-Carmen Wrenn

On July 19 of this year, the Cassini spacecraft took a series of pictures of Saturn as it was backlit by the sun. While this is pretty amazing in its own right, this event is even more stunning considering that Earth, our own pale blue planet, can be seen from more than a billion kilometers away.
The thing that strikes me about this series of photos, in addition to how *pretty* they are, is that on a cosmic scale, humans are very small and fragile, but here we are exploring the cosmos! We make up for our size by using our intellect; we combat our fragility by sending machines in our stead. We explore the universe we know and accept that our explorations only serve to show us how very much we don’t know. We reside within a great puzzle that the creator gave us and we are slowly piecing it together, one bit of knowledge at a time.

On Rosh Hashanah, we are encouraged to prostrate ourselves, fully humble ourselves before the ultimate majesty of G-d. We take these moments during the Alenu to reflect on the magnificence of the world we have been given, and our responsibility for what happens within it and to it. We acknowledge G-d as the ultimate ruler, and we acknowledge, having been made in G-d’s image, our inherent nobility. We were born noble. That’s why we are called out during Rosh Hashanah – because we are capable of the greatest nobility, the most rewarding achievements. Rosh Hashanah happens every year so that we can be humbled before creation, put our baser instincts behind us, and cast off our previous sins. Rosh Hashanah also happens so that we can embrace the bit of G-d within us all, and work to repair the wrongs we have done, seen and heard. This New Year, and every new year we are granted is a reminder of where we started – and how far we must go.

Below and to the right of Saturn’s white and grey rings, a shimmering, silvery-blue dot gleams. There we are, all of us who ever were, reduced to a tiny blue dot hanging in the immense velvety blackness of G-d’s creation, viewing ourselves through the artificial eyes of our own sophisticated handiwork. Here we spy G-d’s majesty, yes, but a little of our own, too.

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