How do we approach the new year? The first sentence in this week’s Torah portion can help:
“You are all standing this day before the Lord your God: the leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel, your young children, your women, and your convert who is within your camp, your woodcutters and your water carriers.”
First of all, we approach together. “You are all standing.” All the leaders and the elders, all the women and the children, even the woodcutters and the water carriers. From the elite to the ordinary people, all sectors of the public share the same story. The newspaper headlines today tell a different story but we cannot escape the feeling of unity that is embedded within us.
But this is not enough. There are commentators who explain that this passage does not speak only to the various parts of the nation but the various parts of each human being.
All these different parts exist within each of our souls. We bring with us to Rosh Hashana moments of the passing year in which we were “leaders of our tribes,” those moments when we were at our best, but we also bring our “woodcutters and water carriers,” low moments of disappointment and distress – and such moments were certainly familiar to us in the past year.
During the month of Elul we collect all these different moments, look back, draw conclusions, and so “we are all standing before the Lord,” praying for a good and sweet year.