Rabbi Alan Lew talks about a time when he was hiking with his friend. They were in a nature preserve on Martha’s Vineyard. The storm came up and they took refuge in a shack with a big picture window. He was looking out the window in the rain at the birds and plants but none of that was really very interesting. His friend said, “Don’t look at the window rather at the window itself”. The world of the window with it smudges and tiny insects and reflections of the light contained a universe in of itself, a place with a life of its own.
When we come to the High Holy Days and think about repenting and examining our lives, we have to shift our gaze from the world itself to the window or lens through which we see it. That window is the filter through which we look at the world – our consciousness or perspective or life philosophy or attitude. Because the lens through which we look at life makes us see the world, differently the first step in examining our lives is to look at that lens itself.
Do we view the world as dark, a place of potential trouble, heartbreak and violence? Or do we see it as the domain of love, peace, kindness and goodwill? Usually, when our perspective on the world is negative it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and brings more bad events. Often, if we can see the universe as, in general, a good place, that attitude affects the world around us positively and brings and allows us to notice love and uplifting moments. We have to work hard on avoiding the former and doing the latter, supported by our friends and loved ones.
From our family to yours, may the window through which you look at the world this year reflect the pure light and all the goodness and kindness that is out there.
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, Sarah, Elijah & Rachel