In autumn, as leaves are withering, it is hard to believe life will ever grow again. Yet beneath the earth, the cycle of life is beginning. The wrinkled seed, buried after harvest, waits to sprout. On Rosh HaShanah we discover that we too can blossom even after we have withered.
A legend tells that on Rosh HaShanah the Divine made the barren matriarch Sarah fertile, and she conceived from her husband Abraham (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 10b). We read the story of Isaac’s birth on the New Year to celebrate this seedling of life. Sarah, 90 years old, is like the soil of autumn: outwardly dry and barren, yet inwardly fecund.*
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* Jill Hammer, The Jewish Book of Days, 1 Tishrei