“Our life is the single greatest work of art we will ever make,” wrote Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. “On Rosh Hashanah, we step back from our life like an artist stepping back from his or her canvas, seeing what needs changing for the painting to be complete.”
Stepping back requires a willingness to pause and dramatically shift focus for a moment. But doing so is essential to reacquire something too easily lost when working on the details: perspective.
With perspective, one is best positioned to create a life of meaning and coherence. A life that will make sense when the canvas is completed. Without perspective, one can spend immense energy on a detailed creation that, in retrospect, filled the canvas but failed to capture one’s vision and ideals.
I can’t think of a more poignant metaphor for Rosh Hashanah this year. For our community, as for so many of us as individuals, the past six months have forced us to step back and look at the bigger picture.
In staying home in our bubbles, we renewed our appreciation for the warmth of our community’s gathering places.
In our newfound sense of vulnerability, we redoubled our commitment to help our neighbours in need.
And in every simcha celebrated with the help of masks and Zoom, we rededicated ourselves to the moments that have infused joy in Jewish life for thousands of years.
One day, it will all be a distant memory. And when our canvas is complete, may we have the merit to enjoy a work of art made even more beautiful by the perspective we gained this year.
Shana Tova U’Metukah,
President & CEO
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto