"Adoshem pakad et Sarah" - God remembered Sarah. We read this phrase, from Parashat Vayera, on Rosh HaShanah. We include it in the Amidah. It is a phrase to which we give little thought, but it is the essence of the High Holy Days and, one could say, the motivation for Judaism. It convolves two fundamental ideas: to be known by God and to be granted fertility. We yearn for both, as individuals and as a community.
Everything in Judaism is designed to enable us to draw closer to God. Why? What does it mean to be close to God? It means that we see God, and God sees us. God recognizes us. God hears us. We need that connection, for in that connection is granted pardon. God in Judaism is both communal and personal. We have a relationship with God, and that relationship is the focus of most of the psalms and most of the High Holy Day liturgy.
Our relationship with God is both intellectual and emotional. We study to engage that intellectual relationship and we discuss and argue and analyze to meet God on the conscious level. But we sing to reach God on the emotional level. We sing to reveal to God our power and our yearning. We sing to let God know that these words are not graffiti on a wall, scribbled in haste: they are special. Our relationship with God requires that we sing. Our relationship requires that we sing as individuals and as a community so that we may be known by God.
God remembered Sarah by enabling her to conceive Isaac. While Abraham might have been the first Jewish man, Isaac was the first to be born Jewish. He represents the survival, the flowering of the community. He represents a personal fulfillment for Sarah and a communal fulfillment for Judaism. And he represents proof of the connection between God and people: God heard Sarah, acknowledged her, and did something about it. God was present.
Throughout Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Sh'mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah our task is to ensure that God is present. Think about what it will take for God to remember you, personally, and remember our community collectively, and consider what it means for us to be fruitful. Sing to God. Engage your mind, and pour out your soul, and refuse to leave until God remembers us.