Rabbi's Message, Rabbi Alvin Kass, September 2015

Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD


Some of us begin each day with the attitude, "Well here we go again." Every twenty-four hours is like every other twentyfour hours, such that repetition is the dominant quality of each day's round of responsibilities. This attitude is also manifest in the approach of many people towards the advent of a new year. The only thing that changes is the number on the calendar. We may be a year older but basically we feel no different; our job is the same, and nothing has altered the quality of our lives. Each twelve month period is a cycle, and when you finish it, you just start again.

This passive resignation to the status quo is remote from the outlook which Judaism has on life. Our faith bids us to regard each new day as a new challenge and opportunity. Indeed, according to our Prayer Book, God continually creates the world anew every twenty-four hours. Hence, we have a chance at the dawn of each new day to be better human beings than we've ever been.

We ought to be equally sensitive to life's constant freshness and never ceasing opportunities at this season of the year as we prepare for Rosh Hashanah. The expectation of 5776 ought to renew our hope of better things to come and to stir our vision of a future replete with great and glorious adventures. It is true that 5775 wasn't all we wanted it to be. We did not fulfill our own personal resolves the way we intended. Illness and disappointment may have clouded our own lives as well as those of our dear ones. But that is in the past.

A new door opens and beckons us to enter upon what can and should be the greatest year of our lives because it is the "now" year. Acts of thoughtfulness and consideration to those we love can bind us closer than ever to our family and friends. Devotion to duty and self- sacrificing service to others will enable us to reach unprecedented heights of satisfaction in our professional lives. Study, prayer and increased participation in Jewish life enrich our souls and enhance our spiritual growth.

5775 will soon be history. 5776 is waiting to be born. But we must choose whether to repeat the patterns of the past or to find regeneration by living each new day to the fullest and by treating every hour of our lives as a precious opportunity from God to find meaning and to give purpose to the world in which we live.

My wife and family join me in wishing all of you a very happy and healthy New Year. LESHANA TOVAH TIKATEVU.

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