Do you know the words to Steven Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns", from the Broadway play A Little Night Music? You can find them in many places on the web. One such location is: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/bestofbroadway-americanmusical/sendintheclowns.htm
What a sense of disappointment, of loss of opportunity this song evokes. It is easy to fall under such a spell, especially around the time of the High Holidays when we consider our lives and the errors we've made. The song is beautiful, and having such regrets, truthfully, is a bittersweet part of being human.
The song is open to several interpretations. One may be: "The act is over. It can't be fixed. On to the next act...if there is one." This is moving poetry. What does this song have to do with the High Holy Days, or more specifically, the time leading up to those Days?
I think Judaism tells us that there is always time for renewal. Of course we can't undo the past. The past is connected to the future through the present; in other words, by grasping onto the present and the tone of our own lives we have set, we can learn from the past and make a better future. In Judaism, it is never the time for us to declare "Send in the Clowns." That is up to God. It is up to us to use our faith and the love of family and friends that surrounds us--and the love of a patient and understanding God as well-- to have the courage to take on the future, and to have the strength not to make the same mistakes (i.e., yield to the same temptations and easy answers) we've made in the past.
There is so little in life that we can really control. But we can make an effort to control who we are and how we act. Our religion teaches us to consider these things as we approach this very special time in the life of every Jew.
My family and I wish each of you will be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life.
L’Shanah Tovah Tikateivu,
Cantor Barbara G. Margulis