High Holidays | Rabbi’s Corner

Inspired by the GPS

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

An 82-year-old Jewish man was recently marveling to me about the wonders of the Global Positioning System, otherwise known as the GPS satellite-based global navigation system. An observation of his got me thinking.

“You see,” he said, “a person can go anywhere but if he doesn’t have a destination he remains stuck in the same spot.”

In the spiritual realm, matters are no different. A human being is meant to constantly thrive and move forward. Without a plan and a goal we are likely to remain isolated in the present which is soon to become the past, and watch life and the world move before our eyes.

But I learned from my travels that even when one does have a direction and knows his destination —with the help of the authoritative voice of the GPS — one can still go astray with missing a turn or an exit on the highway.

We began the year of 5770 with resolutions and firm determination to fulfill them. And yet, at some point along the way we might have drifted off or perhaps got sidetracked and diverted from our objective.

The Hebrew months of Elul and Tishrei are when the GPS informs us, “Recalculating your route.” During this period of repentance and reflection we have an opportunity to reevaluate our decisions and plan our road for the coming year.

Tishrei is referred to in the Torah as the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar (which starts on 1 Nissan). Sheva is Hebrew for the number seven, whose linguistic roots are shared with Shova — satiation or fullness.

This month is indeed filled with holidays that represent the full range of emotions starting with the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which are days of awe and judgment, while Sukkot and Simchat Torah are observed with unity and joy.

All that’s left for us to do is punch in the destination and drive safely on the 5771 highway.

Chanie and I wish you all a happy and a sweet new year.

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov is the director of Chabad of Tucson and spiritual leader of Congregation Young Israel of Tucson. For recommended destinations, you can e-mail him at yshemtov@aol.com.