On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Israel's national discourse was dominated by talk of potential civil war, but few of those talking dared define the possible dimensions of such a conflict.
Would it mean confrontations between soldiers and civilians? Would it be limited to the extreme margins of the settler movement? Could it really present a threat to the very existence of the State of Israel, as Knesset member Yossi Sarid suggested?
It is now two years since I moved to Calabasas to become the rabbi of a new Orthodox congregation. And there is no time like the eve of the Jewish New Year to take stock.
People said it couldn't be done. Some believed there was not much hope for an Orthodox synagogue in this community bordering the San Fernando and Conejo valleys, where expensive homes pepper the steep hills, because members would have to walk to services, and outsiders would be deterred from moving here because of the high price of housing.
There is a new High Holiday book on my shelf that I have been avoiding assiduously, if only for the exalted title: "This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared." Rabbi Alan Lew's book, subtitled, "The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation," reminds me that the summer is ending, and the time has come to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
So, what do math and Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, have in common. On this day, Jews are supposed to do a cheshbon hanefesh. This literally means "accounting of the soul." We count up and categorize all the actions we've taken, and all the thoughts we've had during the year: How many good? How many bad? How many generous? How many selfish? How many useful? How many just a waste of time? Then we decide which actions and thoughts we want to repeat and which we will throw away.