Rosh Hashana is all about the mind that changes - the head that turns - it's lessons learned. The yearly celebration of a mind, a life, a world, re-born.
Rosh Hashana is our chance to review who we have been this past year. This is our time to think of how we might want to try on new & improved ways of being, thinking, speaking as we take off into a new year.
This spoken-word poem is a chance to try on a new character. It is to be read in 4 voices - like the 4 Sons of the Passover Seder. Invite 4 participants to play each character.
The characters are: - The Traditionalist - The Revolutionary - The Spiritualist - The Simpleton
Get in to character. Embellishments and dramatizations are welcome. For instance, the Simpleton can be read innocently, like a child, perhaps curious, perhaps clueless. The Spiritualist could be read meditatively. The Traditionalist could add props of religious garb, a kippah, a prayerbook. The Revolutionary, read with fervor!
Feel free to add accents, add costumes. But most importantly, add YOU. Notice if there are aspects of these archetypal characters that you lean towards, or others that you shy away from. For instance, perhaps you're usually a sophisticated thinker. Use this reading to try on being the Simpleton. What does it feel like to look at the world through simple, childlike, eyes? Of if you are far from rebellious, perhaps try on the Revolutionary and see what it brings up for you.
After you have finished the reading discuss what it was like to try on a different character. Go around the table and have each participant speak about what changes they want to welcome in to their new year, what new traits they want to embody, what new lines parts they hope play.
Experiment. Explore. Enjoy!
(Please note this piece was written for the Schusterman Foundation's excellent RH Haggadah)
The Simpleton: Rosh Hashana is apples and honey.
Is new shoes & hair combed-through.
Is candle-light & distant cousins.
Is something NEW.
The Traditionalist: Rosh Hashana is apples dipped in holy,
not just honey...
Is as OLD as the universe.
Is the Book of Life.
Is a stacks of prayers
Read verse by sublime verse.
The Spiritualist: Rosh Hashana is the FIRST of all firsts.
The first inceptive in-breathe of the Divine
beyond words, beyond appearances,
where we touch beyond time
just in time....to realign...
The Revolutionary: Because G!d knows it's about time
that we realigned!
And realized our immense and overwhelming need for CHANGE!
Rosh Hashana is a nuclear reactor
of getting our proverbial act together.
Righting our wrongs.
Making the world better...and better....and better.
And so we change our clothes...our calendars...our lines.
Forget the facades, just so long as you change your MIND!
Take your old bottled-up self & learn to Recycle, Reform, Refine!
The Spiritual: And speaking of refined...
Let us not forget to pause, to pursue our insides
so much more than our very many outs...
Let us pray, chant & meditate...
That we may have no need to shout...
The Traditionalist: For the only thing shouting
will be the ram's horn
as our prayers form
a tidal wave that hits the very shore
of what we can only call heaven...
- else what's a heaven for?!
The Revolutionary: Though perhaps heaven also needs a few reforms?
Especially this year...haven't we counted far too many days of war?
Perhaps heaven has given us a bit too much to mourn?
The Simpleton: I've seen the loss of children, of soldiers, of parent, of friends.
The Spiritualist: The shocking slaughter of justice, of safety, of innocence.
The Traditionalist: We stand here humbled & gawking at the state of the world.
We've seen her horrors and sorrows - haunting and absurd.
When, dear God, will the shofar of real redemption be heard?
The Revolutionary: Sometimes longing for something better is the best that we've got...
The Spiritualist: And sometimes, she who is rich is she who is happy with her lot.
The Simpleton: So we know that we have lost - a lot...but what have we gained?
The Spiritualist: A deepened connection ...
The Traditionalist: A higher direction...
The Revolutionary: A heightened push for change!
The Spiritual: So let us breath and stretch,
& strain our necks
into this next horizon of a year
keeping our eyes on the prize of ideals we hold dear.
Revolutionary: Lofty ideals of peace in the face of violence
justice in the face of crime.
Traditionalist: Turn our eyes from greed to giving.
Open our hands, our hearts, our minds.
Spiritualist: And this day will be our haven
Revolutionary: --- and our engine
Simpleton: --- our sense of connection
Traditionalist: --- to Tradition
Spirituality: --- And inspiration
Revolutionary: Vive la revolution!
Spiritualist: -- A celebration
Simpleton: -- of apples
Traditionalist: -- dipped in holy
Revolutionary: --- with grit & determination
Traditionalist: - with prayers and prostrations
Simpleton: - with family, with friends
Spiritualist: - and spiritual elation
As we raise a L'Chaim to our differences
and the Oneness that made us!
Bless each other with a year of