Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Value of Time Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

By Nicholas A. Tonelli from Pennsylvania, USA

In her new book from Brandeis University Press, The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season, poet Marcia Falk casts a contemplative light on these most important days of the Jewish year, beginning today with Rosh Hashanah and culminating with Yom Kippur on October 4.

While it may be easier to channel one's focus toward each of the bookend days, Falk says that it is "more accurate, and truer to the spirit of the season, to view the High Holidays as a span of time, a continuous progression that begins at the onset of Rosh Hashanah and concludes at the close of Yom Kippur..."

This "between" time—between past and future, night and day, birth and death—she calls liminal time. And in fact, liminal time comprises that moment, all too fleeting, when one thing, such as light, changes into another, the dark. And depending on your level of attention to it, either nothing happens in that space of time or everything does.

The High Holidays, Falk goes on, are "ten days of meeting oneself face-to-face, opening the heart to change."

So in the universal spirit of taking the time and opening oneself to the unimaginable potential of liminality, as autumn passes from fiery hues to cool smolder, make the next ten days count.

From the book:

Opening the Heart

At the year's turn
in the days between

we step away
from what we know

        wall and window
        roof and road

into the spaces
we cannot name

        cloud and sky
        cloud and wings

Slowly the edges
begin to yield

the hard places

        wind and clover
        reed and river

The gate to forgiveness

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