To Whom Will You Write?

Saturday, September 12, 2015 - 5:50 pm
David Isay

To Whom Will You Write?

We are in that period of Jewish time when the postal service to the divine needs to add Sundays to its delivery schedule, needs to hire extra elves (wrong holiday), and needs to hire extra messengers (perhaps angels), to support the influx of pieces arriving in the mailbox on high.

In this period, we must ask ourselves:

To whom will we write? And what will we say? And how will we say it?

Prescribed to us by the month of Elul and the Yamim Nora’im, these Days of Awe (ימים נוראים), we engage now in a reflection of our inner Rolodex: organizing, optimizing, not the actual cards, but the relationships represented by each. We read and re-read, we write and re-write letters to our loved ones, letters to the universe, letters to God:

To whom will you write? And what will you say? And how will you say it?

In a stationery store, it’s as though there is a card for every occasion: Thank you! Happy birthday! New baby! Mazel tov on your wedding! Condolences on your loss. But it is rare to see a card that says in a non-cheeky, non-hipster, or non-sarcastic way: “I’m sorry…” “I regret when I… “Forgive me…” or “I forgive you…”

While we wait for the industry to catch on to this opportune business endeavor, while we wait for the appropriate stationery…

To whom will you write? And what will you say? And how will you say it?

Our body clocks are attuned to the Jewish calendar, and there are people in our lives who are waiting to hear from us. Don’t send them a form letter. Don’t send them an automatic email response or a printed holiday greeting. That’s not enough. And so, too, are the Gates on High waiting to hear from you:

What will you say, and how will you say it? How does the divine open each letter? And how does the divine consider its contents, giving each its due time?

But, wait — before you head to the mailbox, there’s one more person waiting to hear from you. It’s you:

What will you say to yourself? And how will you say it? How will you consider the contents of your letter? How will you give yourself your due time?

On this Shabbat Shuva, and in these days of return, may your hand tire from all the letters that you will write as you seek to build and rebuild, write and rewrite, and, I pray, read and re-read all of the soul correspondence you send and receive:

To whom will you write? What will you say? And how will you say it?

O source of this New Year, 5776, we pray that our messages be worthy of your merit. We seek to address you in your holy dwelling place so we may return and return to sender, return and return to ourselves — again and again, a forever stamp embossed on our souls.

(Alex Naanou / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).)

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serves as a rabbi at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, Massachusetts. She is a proud product of Indiana University’s Borns Jewish Studies Program and URJ Goldman Union Camp (GUCI), a Reform Jewish summer camp in Zionsville, Indiana. Jen loves shavasana, the beauty of national parks, saying "YES" in improv comedy, and Indiana Hoosier basketball.

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