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    Praying for life – Ask the Rabbi

    Zochreinu lechayim rosh hashanahQ. According to my dictionary of quotations, Chai Gaon said, “Life is a terrible disease, cured only by death”. So why do we pray, Zochrenu LaChayyim – “remember us for life”?

    A. If you are into quotations, how about this one from Sholem Aleichem: “Life is a blister on top of a tumour, and a boil on top of that”?!

    You can laugh at such sayings, but the truth is that they have a point, and life is often not easy. Things constantly turn out differently from the way we had hoped.

    Nonetheless the Jewish view is that life with all its problems is a blessing and an opportunity.

    It can be likened to the shofar with its amazing range of notes. There is misery and there is triumph; there is sighing and there is simchah.

    Everything in our Jewish mind set cries out in protest at the view that life is only dark gloom: the fact that it has its gloom should not blind us to its brightness and sunshine.

    On the other hand it is quite unrealistic to hope for flowers and music all the time, when the fact is that life is really a kaleidoscope.

    When we pray Zochrenu LaChayyim, we are saying both that on the whole life is good and that we crave the opportunity to overcome its drawbacks and extend its blessings.

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