Of all the thoughts that I’m writing about this month, “awaken” may be the most apropos. More than “return”, more than “bless”, more than “learn”.
First, because our tradition is to actually awaken when we’d otherwise be asleep – either before dawn or in the middle of the night. Second, because in that physical act we are trying to also shake a deeper aspect of ourselves awake. The part of us that might have been lulled to sleep by a false sense of security, or of adequacy, or of completion.
We are trying to re-sensitize ourselves to the reality that all may not, in fact, be ok in our world. That we may have much work to do. And that the time grows ever shorter. Or to quote Pirkei Avot ( https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.2.15?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en)
“Rabbi Tarfon said: the day is short, and the work is plentiful, and the laborers are indolent, and the reward is great, and the master of the house is insistent.”
How many times in our technical lives do we (individually or as part of a team or even a company) awaken to the fact that we are behind, only after the deadline has passed? How many times do we ruefully say, “there’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.”?
In this month, on the 17th day before we stand to be judged, we have an opportunity to take the urgency of the moment seriously, and to begin (or better still, continue) the hard work of analysis, planning, and change.