Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Nitzavim 5772

Do we still have a chance?

“When all these things befall you…and you take them to heart…and you return to the LORD your God, and you and your children heed His command will all your heart and soul…then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and take you back in love” (Deuteronomy 30:1-3)

This message of the power and potential of sincere teshuvah, a return to what we can be at our best, is encouraging. But teshuvah is hard work. Do we still have a chance, and if so, do we know how to capitalize on it?

To help us prepare for Rosh Hashanah with this year’s final Torah portion, Nitzavim, ringing in our ears, I wish to share two videos related to my question. The first is from Israeli singer-songwriter Evyatar Banai called Yesh Li Sikui–“I Have a Chance.” English subtitles are included. The title phrase appears as both the first and last words of the song, but there’s a slight difference between those lines. Follow along with the translation, and while taking in the video’s visual clues, what do you think he’s trying to say about change?

Evyatar Banai video

The second video is a newly released clip produced and performed by graduates of Midreshet Ein-Prat, an academy where young Israelis from across the secular-religious/right-left divides come to explore their leadership potential. In this video, they’ve taken Banai’s melody and set it to the words ofYa’ale, the piyyut we sing on Kol Nidre night. “May our supplications rise up before God at night, may our cries come to You during the day, and may our heartfelt sounds continue to appear until the next night.” Watch the video carefully, and on Shabbat morning, we’ll talk about the story it tells, and about the one line they sneak in from Banai’s song. Trust me, it’s beautiful, and well worth watching.

Watch Ya’ale

We’ll bring both these videos to life in our conversation Shabbat morning, as we decide if we still have a chance.

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah,

 

Rabbi David Wise