Interconnected: An Intention for Elul
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Scene one: I went to the local farmer's market and bought some berries. I brought them home and when I opened the box to finish my lunch with fresh fruit, I noticed that the whole package was laced with mold. I was annoyed; the berries weren't cheap! I grabbed my purse and the box and marched back up to the market in the hot afternoon sun. I got in line at the stand, only to be told by the woman in front of me that the line actually wound down the street and I had to go and stand over there
. Just as it was my turn to move up, another woman, who also didn't understand how the line worked, edged in to step before me. I curtly informed her that the end of the line was over there
. She blinked, stood a moment, then put her items back and walked away, telling me that she hoped I didn't hurt other people the way I had hurt her. Confused and contrite, I apologized, but she tossed a rude gesture over her shoulder and didn't look back.
The Eternal Nature of Renewal
By Rabbi Sheila Weinberg
There is a famous interpretation of the four letters of
), the first letters of each word in the verse "
Ani L'Dodi V' Dodi Li"/
אני לדודי ודודי לי
"/"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." (Song of Songs 6:3). Why is this the hallmark of Elul? Here are two of the many possible reasons:
First, we need the softness of an internal beloved to approach the hard work of self-examination. We need to know that there is an eternal and internal source of deep acceptance that will not abandon us even if we fall short of whatever hopes and goals we construct.
29 Days of Reflection: A Month of
y Rabbi Nicole Auerbach
The Hebrew month of
Elul immediately precedes the "High Holy Days" of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Jewish tradition calls on us to use this month to undertake a "
cheshbon nefesh," or "accounting of the soul."
As Rabbi Alan Lew writes, we remember that on Rosh Hashanah, we "will stand before God." "What will God see on that day?," Lew asks. "What will you see? This encounter can carry you significantly closer to the truth of your life. Standing in the light of God, you can see a great deal more than you ordinarily might, but only to the degree that you are already awake, only in proportion to the time an energy you have devoted to preparing for this encounter."
The texts and questions that follow are designed to assist you in preparing your own
cheshbon nefesh. They cover 29 traits, or
middot one for each day of the month of Elul. Each day, take a few moments to reflect on the trait of the day. You may wish to note your reflections in a personal journal, or to pair up with a partner (
chavruta), and check in with one another by phone or email. You may also wish to keep a running list of people from whom you need to seek forgiveness, and another list of those you wish to forgive.
It is our hope that by engaging in this sustained period of reflection, you will be better prepared to experience the transformative potential of the High Holy Days.
Rabbi Nicole Auerbach, Central Synagogue, 2016/5776
A Meditation on the Easy Hard Work of Elul
by Rabbi Jonathan Slater
As the calendar turns toward the High Holy Days, a sort of dread falls on the Jewish world. For some, it is the anticipation of the
, the Days of Awe, where we stand in reverence, and perhaps even fear, for our very fragile human lives.
But, before we get to awe and fear, let's remember Elul, the month preceding the Holy Days. Tradition holds that the four letters making up the name of the month are initials of a phrase from Song of Songs:
Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li
- I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine. Before we can relate to the concept of fear, we have to first love. Consider Johnny Cash's song, "I Walk the Line":
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line
Aware of the preciousness of his relationship, of its fragility, of the obligation to cultivate and protect it, he treads carefully in the world. He is attentive to how he acts, fearful that a slip may cause his beloved pain. Everything, each moment, is another instance of proof of his love or potential for its betrayal.
What would happen if we related to our lives in with that same attentiveness and gratitude? What if our life, embedded in an inseparable from this world, was our beloved - the one we hoped to please and feared disappointing?
V'asu Li Mikdash: Building Communities of Practice
from Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell
V'asu Li Mikdash is an initiative of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality dedicated to supporting all those who teach, lead or organize Jewish Meditation groups-- as well as for those who hope to begin groups.
Our next webinar:
Thursday, September 15
R. Sheila Weinberg on The Practice of Teshuvah: Preparing for the High Holy Days,
Please note that space for the live webinar is limited to 100 participants, so don't wait. The webinar will be made available for download after the live webinar has concluded.
Open to everyone!
Cost: Free of charge
Missed one of our previous webinars? Visit the V'asu Li Mikdash page on our website to download full recordings.