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Hin'ni - Here I Am

09/01/2021 04:28:16 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Today is September 1st. In just 5 days we will officially bid farewell to 5781 and welcome in 5782.

We have been taking time, during the month of Elul, to prepare ourselves for the holy weeks ahead. The work of Cheshbon Hanefesh, the “accounting of our souls” is serious and important work. According to the article linked in the words above we human beings come equipped with the necessary stuff to be good people:

“Jewish tradition posits that as beings created in God’s image, each of us is endowed with a soul that both reflects and embodies the divine. Within each soul a range of divine qualities lie dormant — qualities like compassion, honesty, generosity, and courage, among others. We humans come “factory-equipped” with these qualities, as well as the capacity to actualize them through our words and actions.”

Of course, while we have been doing this hard work the world around us continues to be confronted with significant challenges. Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and excessive heat are taking their toll on the land we live on. The pandemic continues - greatly limiting the way we go through the motions of our everyday lives. Our minds drift as we think about the Afghan people. We pray they will one day see peace in their land. We pray for the families of soldiers whose lives were lost fighting for a peaceful nation that did not come to be. With this as our backdrop the work of reflecting on the past year and wondering how we can do better might seem impossible.

On Erev Rosh Hashanah I will begin the service with: Hin’ni – Here I Am. The footnote at the bottom of page 17 in our machzor Mishkan Hanefesh explains:

“This is the prayer leader’s confession…Above all, Hin’ni reflects the humility and self-awareness necessary for approaching God during the Days of Awe and for the task of cheshbon hanefesh. Ultimately, it is the merit and worthiness of the congregation, not the prayer leader’s qualities, which gain God’s attention and transform misfortune into renewed life.”

Between now and Erev Rosh Hashanah I invite you to spend time with the words found on the page facing the traditional Hebrew of Hin’ni:

Here I am,
one soul within this prayer community.

Like those around me, I bring my own concerns and yearnings

to this place,

hoping they will find expression in the time-hallowed words

of my people and in the traditions cherished by generations before me.

May I bring the best of my energies to these Holy Days, approaching this spiritual work with open heart and mind, sincerity, and sustained focus on the deep questions of this season:

Who am I? How shall I live? Where have I fallen short— or failed?

This night I take up the challenge of the Days of Awe:

cheshbon hanefesh—a searching examination of my life,

a moral inventory of my deeds, words, and thoughts.

This night I take up the challenge of the Days of Awe:

cheshbon hanefesh—a searching examination of my life,

a moral inventory of my deeds, words, and thoughts.

During the next ten days,
let me face the truth about myself and listen to Your still, small voice.

Taking comfort in Your promise that I am always free to change, released from staleness and routine,
let me know the joy of beginning again.

May I gain strength as I share this task

with those around me,

united by our common purpose:

tikkun midot (improving our characters)

and tikkun olam (repairing the world).

I now prepare myself to pray—

one soul amidst this holy congregation.

As a community, through the sacred act of prayer, I know we will gain God’s attention and “transform misfortune into renewed life.”

Thank you for allowing me to lead you on this journey.

L’shanah tovah umetukah – wishing all of you a good and sweet New Year!

Mon, February 6 2023 15 Sh'vat 5783