Tuesday, September 30, 2008


An apple hitting the floor makes a very distinctive noise. I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I pushed one off the table while searching for something else. When I heard the hollowish and heavy simultaneous thump and squish I said, "Shit."

I heard the noise again last night when a two-year-old named Zev fulfilled every premonition that everyone in the room with the hardwood floor had just as soon as he gripped an apple in each hand and began walking around looking up into faces and noting, "Apple!"

But the fall was greeted with laughter rather than profanity. Menachem had already assured us, "There are more," and, indeed, there was a feast of apples and honey to celebrate the new year.

Shana tovu. It is the Jewish New Year, which will be closely followed by the Day of Atonement. There is no pretense that we magically start fresh with a new year. Atonement must still be made for the wrongs that we've done by turning away from the needs of others and thus turning away from God, who specifically commands that we look directly in each other's eyes and recognize that just as Zev's dropped apple was inevitable, so are our own mistakes. And since everyone in every station of life is bound to succumb to gravity in some form or another, we should not judge people for the bruises they cause.

There are more apples.

If we remember this, we can laugh rather than swear because we are not threatened.

Rosh Hashana is a time for letting go and turning back to God and people. My friend Jacob will be casting the lint from his pocket (or his belly-button, depending on his mood) into Lake Michigan this afternoon to represent the spiritual preparation that he will engage in for the next ten days. All of the accumulated shit of a year that keeps us from atoning for the bruises we cause will have to be cast off. All of the defensiveness and fear of what will happen that keeps us from exposing our true selves to God and each other has to be let go of. Because God will just laugh, knowing that your delighted recognition of what is beautiful in this world - Apple! - offsets the mistake of damaging it.

I attended an emergent Jewish congregation's celebration last night led by a rabbi who has attended up-rooted meetings once or twice. He held his son Zev on his lap as he explained and led the prayers his congregants were chanting and reciting. Zev chomped on one of his two apples contentedly in his father's arms and never even noticed the squishy brown spots.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I'm going apple picking in 8 hours