One of the first Hebrew words taught to youngsters is "Hineni." The teacher calls a name and children respond, "Hineni!", Here I am. And they are proud to know how to say, "Here I am" in the language of our people.
Not long after, we learn that proclaiming "Hineni" is one of the most revered statements in the Torah - not only because we read it on Rosh Hashanah, but because it is one of the most profound expressions of faith in our entire heritage. G‑d calls upon Abraham and he responds, "Hineni. Here I am."
Later in life, we begin to fully grasp the implications of saying - and acting upon - the statement "Here I am." "Hineni" conveys our very presence as a Jew. It says to G‑d that Jewish precepts burn within us, that we yearn to lead a life of righteousness, that we will not just answer His call, but that we will seek our own ways to repair the world and improve the lot of others.
Recently I went to Nicaragua and with two other rabbis, we converted 114 people. Many of them were Crypto-Jews, descendants of the forced converts in Spain in 1492. With great yearning, they wanted to reclaim their Judaism. Most of them had been waiting for years for that moment to happen. Their tears, hugs and infinite gratitude demonstrated how sincere their conversion was.
They came to us. They said “Hineni”, “Here I am”, with burning desire, with passion and with ardent love of Judaism. The High Holy Days this year will be their first one as “official Jews” and they want to do everything right. They study, pray, get together and form a beautiful Jewish community.
“Hineni”, here they are without much experience but connecting to their Judaism like few Jews do. “Hineni”, they say, “I have been waiting all my life to daven Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a Jew!”
Their Hineni resonates in my soul as I ask myself “Am I truly here?”
On Rosh Hashanah, we are given the gift of connecting to the powerful energy of creation, giving us unlimited potential.
This year, Yom Kippur falls on a Shabbat, a true Shabbat Shabbaton. Also, 5778, the Jewish year, is spelled תשע''ח in Hebrew. The letter “shin” can correspond to the word “shana” (year), the letter “ayin” to the word “Etz” (tree) and the letter “chet” to the word “chayim” (life). These words make the phrase: “Year of the Tree of Life.”
This year of double holiness on Yom Kippur, if we sincerely say “Hineni”, “Here I am”, double possibility of cleansing is given to us. With a sincere “Hineni”, we are given double possibility of clinging to the Tree of Life for unlimited blessings this year!
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for year of blessings of health, happiness, success and endless possibilities.
I came across a beautiful teaching that I would like to share with you. I hope that in its simplicity and depth you will be touched and inspired!
When the wind comes and the rainbow blows away.
What do we do.
Is there hope.
Hope for the future.
Future, we must understand
We make it. It is fabricated.
Future fluctuates from moment to moment
And we control it with our mind.
And actions. And thoughts. And words.
The most glorious future is truly at hand
When we put our mind to it.
But it is truly like a wonderful secret.
All we need to know is faith. Trust.
Do not let a negative thought dictate your future
Because this is exactly what happens.
Trust each moment.
Savor each moment.
Live each moment.
Because each moment is so very precious.
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