Every holiday has its special association. On Passover we share the Seder with family and friends. On Hanukkah there’s the Menorah and on Purim our costumes. During Sukkot we build booths. On Simhat Torah we parade around with the Torah while on Shavuot we study Torah.
On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we pray. During the High Holy Days, there’s only one thing for which I pray. I pray for meaning. In my recitation and reflection, I want to know, I want to feel, and I want to believe that about my life and my existence there is meaning.
I pray to recognize the path I‘m on and to determine if I’m going where I want to, where I ought to, and to where my temperament and gifts are best suited. The world is so vast. The opportunities are so great. In my life, am I making the most out of the comparably few and crucial choices I get to make?
I focus on how fast and fleeting are our days, our lives. I want mine to matter. I want mine to be about more than what happens. I want the activities of my day to mean something to me and to others.
This is a reflective, introspective season. In my prayer, I evaluate. Am I happy? Are others happy because of me? If no to either question, what must I change? My life’s meaning is rooted in my relationships with others and in my honoring the values and ideals with which I live.
That’s why my prayer takes place in a setting that connects me to a community and makes me aware of God within my experiences, memories, abilities, yearnings, limitations, achievements, failings, and hopes. Two statements in our people’s books of prayer speak to me honestly in my quest.
The first asks, “What are we? What is our life? What is our piety? What is our righteousness? What is our attainment, our power, our might? What can we say, Eternal God and God of our ancestors? We are partners with God in covenant. How good is our portion! How pleasant our lot! How beautiful our heritage!”
The second hopes, “Allow our hearts to understand and discern; to hear, study, and teach; to observe, fulfill, and perform with love all the teachings of Torah.”
In my prayer I reflect. How can my life be worthy of the beauty and mystery in this grand and glorious world if who I am is of little consequence? I come into God’s presence with this sensitivity. Who I am has to matter. I pray for meaning.