At Pardes Hannah, our theme for the High Holy Days this year is, “Surfing the Ebb and Flow.” This is my reflection on the theme, which I shared over Zoom during services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah.
All life, all time, ebbs and flows. Look around you at the world. It’s not just the tidal waters, the rivers and seas, coming in and going out. It is not just the moon, waxing and waning. It is the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of our holy year. It is the pattern of our lives. We are strong until we are not. We are weak, and then we find ways to tap into strength when we think we have no more to give.
The wise do not want to remain always at the top of the wave – how exhausting that would be! Even the Divine, the Blessed Holy One, ebbed in a way we call tzimtzum. To ebb is to make space for others, for creativity and expansiveness, for partnerships and family. For love. For shards of light throughout creation.
To ebb is to gather strength, gather power, like a coiled spring. It is in the ebb we have the power and the potential. When we flow out, we use that power to transform, to grow, to help, to heal. To turn the kaleidoscope and see new patterns in the light. To vibrate in attunement with the universe. To be on top of the world, not just the wave.
Our ebb and flow is not in one world only and not in one plane only. We ebb and flow through the four worlds and spiral upward with each return. Return again, we sing. Return again.
To avoid the ebb and flow would be to stay forever in one place, one plane, one world. To stay in one place, one state, is to fall backwards as the rest of creation ebbs and flows around us. To freeze in place would be to gain understanding, but not grow that understanding into wisdom; to have discernment and judgement, but no outpouring of lovingkindness as a result; to be too humble to persevere in the good fight; to deny our role in the manifestation, the Shekinah, in this world and all the worlds.
Do not refuse to join the joyous dance of creation. The Lord of the Dance calls us to “Dance, dance, wherever you may be.” So let us join hands and dance through the gate of the new year. Let us choose life every time we have a choice; life with all its messy, contradictory, oscillating ebbs and flows. We can shout from the mountain tops and cry from the depths. Let us embrace the rhythm of ebb and flow, gather our energy and send it forth, ride the wave all the way in and the paddle back out to catch the next wave. Surf’s up!