High Holy Days Journey with Amichai Lau-Lavie: 40 ways in 40 days to find your focus



Did I find my focus?


The 40th day was an exercise in focus, in really being present. Barefoot, in white clothes, wrapped in a large talit, surrounded by friends old and new, lifted by the music, by our singing, by memories, by intention, by the responsibility of being fully in the moment, for making the ritual alive.


During the afternoon break we head down to the Hudson River, strolling in the sun. On the pier a discarded single page torn from a paperback. I pick it up:

“You ARE there.

He scanned the lobby with its thousands of hurrying commuters and summer vacation travelers. Not one of them had a clue about his or her mortal condition at that moment. People never seemed to believe that something horrible could actually happen to them.”


That seemed auspicious. I too the page along and included it in my afternoon study which I had previously titled ‘you are t/here’.

We opened the books of legends and peeked into the original, lesser known, of this day – the 40th day of waiting, upon which Moses finally came down from Sinai, for the second time post golden calf – with the second set of ten commandments. “Moses wept an the people wept, with regret and with joy,” writes the Midrash – “and for that weeping, this day will be a day of weeping and joy for all generations.” This legend makes Yom Kippur to be the primal day of second chances, of possible re-commitment to a life lived more cleanly, more focused, more whole.

We wept with the people and Moses as he walked down the mountain, and then the sun set on the 40thday of our yearnings, and gates opened and closed, and shofars were blown, and the journey was over.


Now what?


Now it’s the day after and the journey is over, and the book of life is sealed, and the New Year has begun, and there’s always a low after a high, and all that stuff that was postponed till after the holidays and post summer is really to be dealt with, — but easy on the anxiety. Fresh down from the mountains of the sacred, still charged – with hope to keep up better focus, energy, good will, clarity all year round.


And now pause, sun setting again: Give thanks to the journey, to all of you who journey along, to the gifts and teachings and inner growth and hard questions and new friends and habits that these 40 days of awareness have given many of us in many different ways.



So how happy are you on the scale of 1-10? That was the question that triggered my process, started this journey.

But maybe the question next year will be – how focused are you on the scale of 1-10. And then again who knows what next year brings.


This journey was helpful to get me more focused on this process of return – and helpful to have more focused for the year ahead. I think I’ll do it again next year. What do you think? Any suggestions, ideas for improvements or changes?


And for that matter – dear reader, and with thanks to the few of you who already wrote heartwarming notes – I’d be very appreciative of any feedback at all. A cup of tea even. More precious conversation.

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heres to a year of finding more focus.

Zoom out. Shana Tova.