Reflections for Elul
in anticipation of the year 5781
ELUL: ani l’dodi v’dodi li
“I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me.”
Who is “my beloved?” – usually we think in romantic terms – intimacy – a lover.
I suggest that the beloved is the Holy One, and the Holy One within us – ourselves! Elul is a time to come back to the wholeness (and the holiness) of ourselves, to love ourselves so much that we seek to heal our broken parts, that we seek to mend the fissures with others, that we seek to be at one with the One. These days are, when each morning the shofar is sounded as a wake-up call, we are meant to stir ourselves to the sacred work of renewal in all the four worlds of body, mind, emotion and spirit. Each day as the shofar wails its whole and broken notes, we are to listen, listen, listen with our heart’s song (Lyrics from the wonderful rebbe and composer, Dovid Zeller z”l) to the stirrings of our own hearts. Let us listen well.
We are taught that on Shabbat we gain a neshama yeteirah, a “second soul” with which to sense all that escapes during the work week. We can smell the pleasant scents of flowers more keenly; we can sense the emotions of love, joy and even sadness more palpably. How will we engage with our second soul this Shabbat as we journey toward a New Year?
When Moses came down Mt. Sinai with the Tablets of the Ten Commandments a little later than the people expected, he saw that the people had fashioned a Golden Calf and that they were dancing and cavorting around it. Enraged, he threw the tablets to the ground and they were smashed into pieces. After a while, and with the Holy One’s permission, Moses ascended the mountain again and fashioned a second set of tablets. When the people of Israel moved on in the wilderness, both the broken and the whole tablets were housed in the Ark. Let us explore what our broken habits are, our dancing before the ‘Golden Calf,’ our worship of gods that are sick, and unhealthy for us. How do we use this Elul time to try to break these damaging habits, patterns that can only hurts us?
Rosh HaShanah never comes at the right time;
It is always too early or too late.
Rosh HaShanah always comes before we are ready
To put aside our past and lay our burdens down
Rosh HaShanah always catches us by surprise.
Showing up with a Shofar blast
So we stop, turn and listen
To the arresting voice within and around us…
May I listen to the “arresting voice” within me. May I listen deeply, and may the lessons I hear teach me well, so that I may act on their truths.