“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
– Abraham Joshual Heschel
Can we imagine, even if just for a moment, that we are able to live each moment with the capacity of amazement Rabbi Heschel offers above? What if, for a moment, we did so at least for the celebration of the creation of our world on Rosh Hashanah? What would happen if on the evening of Rosh Hashanah we spent time watching the sun set, standing in awe of that which was created on the first day. Spend time marveling at the spectrum of colors and simultaneously noticing our breath, our heartbeat, the sounds around us, the feeling of the temperature on our skin and the sight of a breeze making leaves dance?
A few years ago, my daughter and I, along with a few friends, hiked to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was a challenging and rewarding experience. It was on the first day that our guide, Steve, pointed ahead of us and shared that beyond that point we used to see the glacier. He shared that starting tomorrow morning we will start to see the runoff of the melting snow. When we shared that there were miles of ground exposed before the line of snow ahead, he paused, took a deep breath, and said ‘Yes, this used to be a very different hike, so sad!’
Last year I enjoyed hiking the Tour Du Mont Blanc. We met a crystal hunter who shared his passion and finds while sharing a meal at their mountainside café. There is now an abundance of crystals since the glaciers have receded. His response to these new finds: “How can I enjoy this beauty when the reason I get to enjoy it is the changing of the world’s climate?”
So … what if we celebrate Rosh Hashanah a little different this year? What if we took Rabbi Heschel’s take on radical amazement to heart? What if we paused long enough to see the world’s creation as our responsibility? What if the next sunset we see urges us to live life a little differently, maybe a softer step, a smaller footprint, a gentler approach.
I look forward to the Days of Awe – Rabbi Heschel style!
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle focused on climate change for the season of the world’s birthday, Rosh Hashanah. This article is part of that series for 2023/5784.