Rabbi Sydni's Shabbat Sermons

Rosh HaShanah 5781

by Rabbi Sydni

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

An Alternate Hineni for 5781

“Here I stand, impoverished in merit, trembling in the presence of the One who hears the prayers of Israel. Even though I am unfit and unworthy for the task, I come to represent Your people Israel and plead on their behalf. Therefore, gracious and merciful Adonai, awe-inspiring God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, I pray that I might successfully seek compassion for myself and those who send me” (Mahzor Lev Shalem)

Please, God, do not harm or punish them on account of my decisions leading up to these ten days. If You have been saddened by the shortened length of services today, intended for the sake of our safety, please, let them not bear my guilt. If You have been angered by our use of Zoom or Streamspot, if You have been infuriated by the microphones that are switched on and off for the sake of those at home, may this community feel no shame. My God, I am only striving to broaden the borders of those who love You, to bring our Jewish people closer to Your Presence. If I am going about it the wrong way, forgive me, but more importantly, forgive them.

Please God, I pray that we have done enough to protect the people in this room. We have tried to regulate seating, and we have encouraged those at risk, some of our most devoted and missed community members, to stay home. We have mandated masks, and we have stepped back from offering those celebratory meals that have brought joy to this community for 120 years. Please God, let this room fulfill our goals of comfort and safety, not our fears of danger and tragedy.

I beg you, God, to listen as if I had spent the past year in perfect righteousness, as if I had taken on that prayer routine for which I strived but never achieved, as if I had upheld the environmental standards I set for myself and then dropped. Better yet, God, don’t listen to me - listen to the words of the people in this room who have comforted one another in their times of grief, who have bolstered each other in moments of trial and hours of joy. Heed their righteousness, and write us all into the Book of Life, for the sake of their merit.

“May it be Your will, Adonai, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, great, mighty, awe-inspiring, transcendent God, who rescinded to Moses, saying, “I will be there with you, in the way that I will be there with you,” that my prayer reach Your throne, through the merit of all honest, righteous, and devout people, and for the sake of Your glory. Praised are You, merciful God, who hears prayer” (Mahzor Lev Shalem).