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23rd Elul Days Are Scrolls, Write on them what you want to be remembered

Days are scrolls, write on them what you want to be remembered

Bachya ibn Pakudah (c1050 – 1120)

In one of the great cartoons produced by Harry Blacker, z’’l, there is a drawing of a man holding a placard which reads, ‘Repent now and avoid the High Holy Day rush!’

Yom Kippur is fast approaching and the imagery presented to us in our prayer books is of God, the Record Keeper and Chief Accountant, who makes daily notes on our actions in three ledgers, depending on whether our deeds have been good, bad or indifferent. Then, the big day, Yom Kippur, when the books are opened, the accounts totted up, and the future, based on the final balance in the ledgers, is decreed for each of us and the record sealed.

It is a challenging image, intended, as Bachya taught, to remind us that what we do every minute of every day can have repercussions not only on us, but on our world. There is a mystical teaching that really speaks to me. We are taught that every mitzvah, every good deed we perform, helps rebalance the workings of the cosmos. It is a teaching that empowers us, giving us hope. Each of us, every day, in often seemingly insignificant ways, can help the world to be a better place.

Years fly by. Blink and another week has gone. So each night, as I lie on my bed, I think of what I have done with that day. Sometimes I smile, but more often I cringe when I think of missed opportunities. I wish that a better entry had been entered on that day’s scroll. But each morning as I wake, I thank God who has renewed my life and given me another chance, a new empty scroll to fill. Maybe, if I concentrate and am mindful of my actions, that day the scroll will be worthy of inclusion in the Book of Life.

Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick LBC 1975 London


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