Defying Closure

Posted on September 13, 2012

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Looking out my window at the full-grown green olives weighing down the branches of our tree, I am reminded that the Jewish New Year does not begin neatly at the end of one traditional agricultural year and the beginning of another.  These olives, last of the summer fruit to ripen, will only be harvested in another month or two, after the extended series of holiday celebrations are behind us. 

Perhaps in the earliest days of Jewish ritual, the final fall harvest did coincide with the new year, and it is  global warming that has knocked us out of whack.  In ancient times, rabbis examined the ripeness of the grain crop to decide whether an extra month should be added to ensure that Passover was observed in the month of Aviv.  Now we stick to our calendars, while holidays and harvests diverge into separate spheres.

Still, the change of seasons that marks the New Year is unmistakable, in the splitting pomegranates, the waning figs and the clouds piling up on the horizon.  Just the olives, firm and green, defy any sense of closure.

This is the time to extend my wishes for a new year full of gracious endings and fresh beginnings, all across the seasons, each in their time, whenever that may be.

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