Artículo Yom Kipur 5778 – English

Our Hineni Moment

Hineni: I am here.
Hineni is one of my favorite words in the High Holidays vocabulary. It is a very special word, very Biblical. It is much more than saying “here” in school. Its message is: I am fully present at this moment and ready to embrace my mission.
It is as if in just that word, Abraham, Moses or Isaiah, among the main figures of Israel, said: “I am ready to do great things.”

It is no coincidence that in several texts where they are called up, either by God or an angel, their names are repeated: Abraham, Abraham. Moses, Moses. Samuel, Samuel – as if they said you are called upon and only you. When the magic word hineni is stated, the calling must be more specific for a particular task. Hineni is said with full knowledge of the transcendence of the task and the consequences of what is to come. 
In the bush, Moses answers “hineni” to God. That moment of the burning bush that would not consume itself is fundamental to the transition of Moses from shepherd to leader of the Hebrew nation. 
Hineni implies being present with the fullness of our being. 
What is our hineni moment? What should we be doing towards a great purpose for next year, and how will we respond? 
Hineni is the moment to cross the line, to make a decision, to commit. Hineni is the answer to a need in the world, to a person’s cry. 
There are plenty of reasons to ignore the cry. There is only one reason not to: the knowledge that this is why one is here, to respond to this cry is part of the meaning of being created in the image of God.

I think the expression “Hineni-I am here”, has three key messages for us: to be present in our own spiritual life, to be present for others and to be present for our community. 
Many of us claim that spiritual life should be nurtured and therefore requires our attention. However, how many minutes a day are dedicated to take care of our spirit? How often do we stop, take a deep breath, synchronize with our senses and say, “hineni”? Am I really here, truly present in this moment?
The great thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that Shabbat is a permanent teaching and paradigm about the importance of stopping one day a week to contemplate the world in all its beauty and splendour. 
Once we say hineni to ourselves and our lives acquire a spiritual centre, we can be there for others. 
In our busy lives, we need to be present for our families as the first priority. 
Are you present for your loved ones in the day to day? Are you present for your friends, family and community members when they are going through difficult times?
Our spouses, our parents and children, our friends, need to know that when they call us, we will be there to walk by their side and support them.
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that “the most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When our full attention reaches those we love, they shall sprout like flowers.”
When we miss the chance to be present for our nearest loved ones, it is possible that we will not notice the damage that has been done until it is too late to fix it.
Judaism is a religion focused on the present, with a unique emphasis on serving our equals, which is made to be lived in community. We accepted the Torah in Mount Sinai and we made a pact with God, not as isolated individuals but as a people. “Do not grow apart from the community,” our sages said.

Each time “hineni” is used, marks an inflexion point, a potentially transforming moment that requires the power of decision, courage and resolution. 
Heschel  z”l evoked an episode from his childhood: when he was a boy, he was taught the story of Isaac’s binding. He remembered that when he heard the angel called on Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac, he began crying. Despite the assurances provided by his teacher that Isaac had been saved, the young Heschel could find no comfort. He asked his teacher, “But Rabbi, what would have happened if the angel had been one second late?” The Rabbi explained that an angel could never be late. But Heschel replied, “An angel might not be late, but man, made of flesh and blood, can.”
Hineni means “I am here,” but the power of this expression is much larger. It is the acceptance of an obligation, a superior purpose requiring true commitment. 
In a world full of distractions like the one we live in, the right way to translate “hineni” would be “I am fully here.” I am fully present in my life in all its facets. I am fully present with my loved ones. I am fully present at my job. I am fully present when I am talking to you. I am fully present with my whole being. This means paying attention to what matters the most, beyond the most urgent, to try to attain a higher spiritual level. I am fully present as a Jew, faithful to the tradition of my people. I am fully present as a citizen of the world, working towards its perfection. 
To be fully present today, under the massive influence of technology, cannot be taken for granted. It is without a doubt, a difficult task, an aspiration and an ideal. 
In this new year, may the sounds of the shofar inspire us to respond hineni every day. 
How would it be if, from now on, each of us answered more often with an energetic and decided hineni?
Hineni – I am here. Today I will hear the calling that brings me to the present with myself. Hineni – I am here. Today I will focus more of my attention, love and care on those persons that I know need me. Hineni – I am here. May today be the day we dedicate ourselves to the renovation and improvement of the world. 
May we have the courage and audacity to say, as Isaiah did a long time ago: “I am here, send me.”
In these Yamim Noraim, may we choose life, and to appreciate the many blessings that surround us everywhere. All we have to do is be here – hineni. 
Leshana Tova tikatevu vetechatemu!
Rabbi Daniel Kripper