The spiral of Jewish time


As we enter the last Shabbat of the old year, we look ahead to the unexplored, unmapped territory of the new year, where anything – good or bad – could happen.  What gives us the courage to step into the new, when so much is unknown?  The ancient rabbis gave us a gift in this regard when they set aside the view of time that sees it as an arrow shot from a bow, inexorably leaving the past behind and barreling into the future.  Instead, they saw time as a cycle, a spiral.  As we walk along the path, we see patterns recur and familiar signposts come up again, even as we are never precisely in the same place that we were when we last passed by these markers.  As we celebrate the new year in turbulent times, with such rapid and unpredictable change, let us take comfort from taking a wider view of the pattern of our lives, integrating both what has changed and what comes around again, the markers that show us the way forward.  May we walk forward with courage and hope as we begin the cycle again.