The month of Elul

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is a special time of renewal and reflection, a chance to do some real spiritual growth.  We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed.

I have loved the “Jewels of Elul” for seven years now and this year is no exception.  Every day in my e-mail inbox (and the inboxes of about 17,000 others) is a little jewel of light… stories, anecdotes and introspection.  Sign up for your own.

“If for an instant God were to forget that I am rag doll and gifted me with a piece of life… I would sleep little, dream more, understanding that for each minute we close our eyes we lose sixty seconds of Light.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Rabbi Dr. Reuven Hammer says that “because these days are filled with so much meaning and potency, they require a special measure of readiness. We are called upon to enter them thoughtfully and to consider what they mean.  Jewish tradition points to the name of the month as symbolically appropriate–the letters of Elul form an acronym for the words in the verse Ani le‑dodi ve‑dodi li–“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3). Believing that the “beloved” refers to God, the sages take this verse to describe the particularly loving and close relationship between God and Israel.  Elul, then, is our time to establish this closeness so that we can approach the Yamim Noraim, or Days of Awe, in trusting acceptance of God’s judgment. We approach the trial not out of fear, but out of love.”

The very purpose of this 29-day reflection period is to become aware of our failings, sit with them for awhile, and seek forgiveness from ourselves, others and God.   Like anything worth doing, change takes awareness and hard work.

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