Reflections on autumn at the High Holy Days


As I prepared to write my column for the Fall Home and Garden issue, my research on gardens and harvests led me to the spring month of Nisan – and I wondered why it was difficult to find material about the harvest, planting and crops in the fall months.

I found an explanation in The Jerusalem Post, in the article “Why is Rosh Hashana in the Autumn?” by Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg.

Rosenberg writes, “It all came from our sojourn in Egypt, as did the idea of the New Year celebrated after the harvest, in the autumn ….

“At springtime, it may have been normal to celebrate the beginning of fertility and to pray for its extension over the coming year, but it was only in the autumn, at the end of the harvest, that the population knew whether their prayers had been answered, so that was the time to celebrate, to start the New Year, to be grateful and thank God for His blessings. It was a lesson that the Israelites learned from their time in Egypt.”

This brought to mind a story in my book “Pathfinding” about a man and woman strolling along a crowded sidewalk. Suddenly one of them exclaims, “Did you hear that meow?” They both stop and listen intently.

“There it is again. Didn’t you hear it?” asked the one who heard the kitten a second time.

“How can you hear that kitten’s meow in this frenzied place?” the other one asks.

The first one doesn’t answer, but takes a quarter out of her purse and drops it on the sidewalk, causing a dozen people to look around for the loose change.

“We hear,” she says, “what we listen for.” Chani Ozarowski Newman expresses this thought well in her article “Lessons from the Autumn Leaves,” in the part of Newman contemplates what occurs during the autumn or a sunset:

“For a temporary period of time, God gives us a peek into the complexity that goes into His creation. He breaks apart the facade of green trees and white light to show us that He has hidden more under the surface, that there is in fact greater, more beautiful depth to Him and His world than we could ever imagine ….

“Maybe the message of autumn is the reminder that there is tremendous beauty God wants us to enjoy in this physical world. But without recognizing that He is the source behind it, without that connection to Him, the physical world is dead. When we do recognize Him, however, the world can be quite a beautiful place.”

In our own transitions from season to season as we busily prepare for change, we don’t often stop to hear or see what’s all around us. The High Holy Days, which fall during autumn, is the perfect time of year to stop, reflect and “hear” the positive messages God has for us.

PATRICIA RASKIN, president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., is an award-winning radio producer and R.I. business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.