Celebrating Rosh Hashannah – the Year 5766 At Gobind Sadan
Blow Conch – Tekiah – Crown God as King of the Universe – Almighty, All Powerful –
Long single blast
La Shana Tova ! A Blessed and Sweet New Year to you all!
Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!
fortune of being born and raised in a Jewish family and it gives me great pleasure to be able to share the God of my youth with you – by that I mean the way I came to know God as a child. Ever since this Holy Place (the Sch’ma Place or Place of the Covenant) was erected in Gobind Sadan I try to visit it daily and sing God’s praises as I learned them as a child to the extent I can still remember them. For being born into a Jewish family meant at the very least God’s name would be taken every week on the Sabbath and His Greatness celebrated throughout the Year. (for more observant Jews – prayer was and is a part of their everyday life – every movement and every moment is a remembrance of God). But for a Jew no matter how observant you were or even if you didn’t believe in God there were 2 days that you had to come to Synagogue to “validate” your Jewish identity. I’m sure there is a category of existential Jews who escaped from even that obligation, but according to my upbringing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days, were obligations in a sea of what others may have considered optional religious observances.
Today Jews all over the world gather to remember and celebrate God’s greatness as He created the world and all life (7 days according to the Tanach). This is the year 5766 according to the Jewish calendar. We usher in the New Year by blowing the Ram’s horn – as we here blow the conch. Not only does this sound awaken our souls to the Presence of God – almost announcing His Message – but it also reminds us of the story Babaji (Baba Virsa Singh) so often tells of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice of his son Isaac – and the appearance of the ram to take the place of his son as the sacrifice to God. It is out of this willingness to sacrifice that God blessed Abraham with a commitment – a covenant for all times that his descendants would be considered God’s people. And as Maharaj ji often relates – if we look at the world today – the Jews – Christians and Muslims are all descendants of Abraham and consider him their spiritual Father.
Blow the Conch – Shevarim: Cry to God for our failures and desire to Grow – Varag
3 short wailful blasts –
While this is a day of Joy and celebration – we dip apples in honey – (we will distribute sweets (prashad) at Jesus’s place as He was as you know born a Jew) it also ushers in a period of great inner reflection as to our place in God’s universe and God’s plan. And it is a time for healing – a time to ask forgiveness from God for our sins of the past year. But equally important is to ask forgiveness from and offer forgiveness to those we may have offended in even the smallest way or who have offended us. We say “God please forgives us for the sins knowingly or unknowingly I have committed” – like Guru Tegh Bahadur says “achet pap” we ask forgiveness for even the unconscious sin.
Just as Jesus says that in order for God to forgive us we must forgive others – so in the Jewish tradition in order to be happy and at peace we must be able to forgive and accept forgiveness from others. Babaji often tells us that before we go to sleep at night we should think – “Did I hurt anyone’s feelings today?” “Did I make any mistakes today and if so – ask God to forgive us.”
For me personally to find that the God of my Youth is indeed the God of my Life – that my soul’s journey brought me face to face with the God of my Youth – I am forever grateful. For some, and even for myself at times, it may be hard to understand that the path to unite me with the God of my Youth brought me to India and to the feet of the Great Modern Day Seer and Healer Baba Virsa Singh. But that again is one of God’s mysteries to be celebrated not questioned. Suffice it to say that I today stand before the Sch’ma etched in stone and recite the words of the covenant and share them with all those who may never have known a Jew or even heard of Abraham’s or Moses’ greatness if it hadn’t been for the Vision of Baba Virsa Singh. And for this I joyfully sing the wonderful prayer of my youth
Ba Yom ha hu Yeyai Adonai ehod
| Ushmo Ehod
Fervantly we pray Oh Lord that the day may come when to thee alone every knee must bend and every tongue give homage.
On that day the Lord shall be One and His Name Shall be One.
And from this vantage point in Gobind Sadan, India surrounded by sacred sites and readings from all faiths, that day is not far away. The Mosque and Mandirs stand behind me, Jesus stands to my left and in the central compound the Havans (sacred fires) and Guru Granth Sahib stand before me. And in the Sacred Garden sits the one who has shown us this vision and the one who once again will lead us out of today’s wilderness to a new promised land.
Blow the conch – Teruah: 9 quick blasts -Wake up to our potential – our goals and directions
So let us blow the conch one final time and ask: ”What is God’s order (hukam) for me?”
La Shona Tova – The Sweetest and Most Blessed New Year to you all!!!!