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HHD 5779/2018: Rosh Hashanah Evening Sermon

HaYom HaRat Olam – On Rosh HaShannah we celebrate the birthday of the World. Our Home. I want to share with you some pictures of our home from different perspectives.

Home to estimated  8.7 million (give or take 1.3 million) is the new, estimated total number of species on Earth -- the most precise calculation ever offered -- with 6.5 million species on land and 2.2 million in oceans.

Edgar Mitchell, Apoloog 14 astronaut, speaking in 1974 said, “From Out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that you SOB”.

Our sun is violent, turbulent, and flaring. It provides us with light, heat and energy without which we would not be alive.

The sun is enormous and much, much larger than any of our planets.  Sun's diameter is 285 times larger than that of Mercury.

In terms of radius, the Sun is about 109 times larger than Earth. The diameter of the Sun is approximately 864,948 miles while the diameter of Earth is only 7,926 miles. It is necessary to line up the Earth end-to-end 109 times to fit across the length of the Sun.

This is the milky, our galazy. We live in a galaxy, a system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction.

Scientists estimate that 100 to 400 billion solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy.Scientists estimate that 100 to 400 billion solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy.

If the typical galaxy had 100 billion stars, then there would be 2 x 10 23 stars in the observable universe, three times as much as earlier estimates.

This is a picture of different galaxies. In general, the bigger they are the closer they are and the The brighter they are the closer they are. Scientists estimate that there are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe.

There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

Only location in the universe that has life, as far as we know now. Apollo 14 Astronaut Mitchell said, “My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.”

During for what for many is The pinnacle of the Rosh HaShannah Holiday, the SHOFAR SERVICE, we repeat the phrase : HA YOM HA’RAT OLAM. Today, is the birthday of the world.

Explain how it Works. Shofar Soundings are sandwiched by themes (M,Z, and S) and by the congregation together proclaiming Ha’Yom Ha’Rat Olam.

Malkyot- Is our first theme.  Soverignty. When I look at these incredible photographs of our planet, the galaxy and the observable universe, I am moved by its majesty and grandeur.  The shear size of the OLAM Universe is incomprehsible to me . It is AWE-SOME.  I can’t help but feel very, very small. I am humbled. What is my purpose in this vast universe, whose stars, as God said to our forefather Abraham, “are more vast than the numbers of grains of sand on the earth? Humility and awe, my friends, is not a bad response, I would say it is the reasonable response to the experience of facing such majesty and grandeur.

Ha’Yom Ha’Rat Olam – Today is the Universe’s Birthday.

The Second Theme of the Shofar Service is Zikranot- Rememberence. What is it that we are called to remember?

We are called to remember our covenant with the Eternal. In the book of Genesis, all humanity (not just the Jews) are called to be stewards of the earth. Our sacred responsibility is to preserve and protect our home, our planet. When we see our planet, set in its solar system, in its galaxy among billions of other galaxies, I am made aware of how fragile and precious our home it.  By miraculous circumstances our tiny little planet, Earth, is the only planet known to house life in the universe.

We are also called to remember the Chasidic Story Rabbi Bunim. Rabbi Bunim said everyone should have two pockets, each containing a slip of paper. On one should be written: I am but dust and ashes, and on the other: The world was created for me. From time to time we must reach into one pocket, or the other. The secret of living comes from knowing when to reach into each.

The world was created for us. WOWSA!!!!! We, are meant to enjoy and “approvecharse” this marvelous world with its mountains, beaches, and breathtaking vistas. That is one thing I love about our conversation. We ski the alps and marvel at the snow topped trees, we hike the trails and appreciate the beautiful spring flowers. On vacation, we scuba dive and stare at the reefs and neon fish. And, so much more.

REMEMBER - Ha’Yom HaRat Olam – Today is the Birthday of the World.

The Third Theme of the Shofar Service is Shofarot- The soundings of the Shofar itself. Primal sounds that reach thru time and space.

We are reminded of the three sounds –

Tekiah – 1 long

Shevarim –  3 short wailing sounds

Teruah- 9 short blasts

Tekiah- Wake Up. Pay Attention!  Pay Attention to Your Actions! Pay Attention to this beautiful and fragile world in which we live! See it. As Astranut Chaffee Said when looking at earth from outer space, “The world itself looks cleaner and so much more beautiful. Maybe we can make it that way - the way God intended it to be - by giving everyone, eventually, that new perspective from out in space.”

Shevarim– The 3 notes that sound like wailing. It is not a gentle soft cry. It is a mournful, soul wrenching Cry. We wail for our forests that are burning due to more frequent fires. We wail for the people who grow hungry as droughts prevent their crops from growing. We wail for those who are forced to leave their island homes as water levels rise. We wail for our planet’s animals who are no more. There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

Truah- 9 short blasts- They call to get going. Now is the time to take action, to make amends, to make repairs, to Save our planet. Tomorrow I will talk much more about that.  Not just for our sake but for our children and our grandchildren’s sake. Now and not tomorrow.

Ha Yom Ha’Rat Olam. Today is the worlds’ birthday.

A Prayer for Wonders in Nature

Thank You, God,

For the sands and the stars,

For the oceans and the mountains,

For all the living creatures

Whose spirits are somehow connected to my own.

Thank You for the forests and the flowers,

For the fertile soil

And the power to grow.

Thank You for life’s rhythms,

The seasons and the phases of the moon,

For the sky above me,

And the soul within me.

Thank You, God, for placing me

In a world so vast and majestic.

Everywhere I turn I see a sign

That leads me straight to You. Amen.

--Rabbi Naomi Levy

Tue, March 21 2023 28 Adar 5783