Between Us: Let’s talk about the Days of Awe

Between Us

Two of our grandchildren visited with us recently. The younger, three years old, is at that wonderful stage of trying out her independence while keeping her parents and grandparents within sight, just to be safe. It is during this transitional phase that I often find myself saying, “you can do it” and “don’t be afraid.”

Nearing the end of the Torah, this week’s portion, Vayelech, is also about transitions. Moses, now 120-years-old, passes the mantle of leadership to Joshua, saying, “Be strong and resolute, for it is you who shall go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their fathers to give them… And the Lord Himself will go before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Fear not and be not dismayed!”

Don’t be afraid.” It’s something we say to our children (and grandchildren) as we encourage them to go down the slide, jump in the pool, get on the school bus, make a new friend and leave you at the college quad — all conjuring up images of standing on a threshold, or perhaps more accurately, a precipice. By telling our children – and ourselves – not to be afraid, we’re asking that faith take hold and to trust that the outcome will be favorable.

During these yamim noraim – the Days of Awe – we once again face a new year with trepidation. For some it is a mere threshold, for others, a chasm. Deciding which is determined by our willingness to take risks, to trust ourselves and God. The size of the leap translates to the amount of change we’re willing to tolerate. And if we listen carefully, perhaps we’ll hear a voice telling us not to be afraid.