One of my favorite books to re-read during the lead-up to the Days of Awe is This is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Rabbi Alan Lew, may his memory be a blessing.
Some weeks ago, before Tisha b’Av, we discussed the first three chapters at CBI as our after-services Shabbat morning Torah study. This coming Shabbat — Shabbat Ki Tetze, Saturday September 1 — we’ll discuss the next three chapters:
Four – The Horn Blew and I Began to Wake Up: Elul
Five – This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: Selichot
Six – The Horn Blows, the Gates Swing Open, and We Feel the Winds of Heaven: Rosh Hashanah
These chapters take us through the journey of Elul (the month we’re in now), Selichot (the service which prepares us for the Days of Awe to begin — this year we’ll have a Selichot play at CBI followed by a very short-and-sweet havdalah and Selichot observance), and the rollercoaster ride of Rosh Hashanah.
For the final chapters of the book, which cover the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur, I’ll encourage members of the discussion group to meet on their own in “hevruta” — groups of two or three — to discuss these chapters sometime during those Ten Days. Here’s a list of those final chapters:
Seven – What the Soul Does While the Gates Are Still Open: The Ten Days of Teshuvah
Eight – The Soul Hears Its Name Being Called: Kol Nidre
Nine – Death and Yom Kippur Atone
Ten – The Gates Clang Shut: Neilah
Epilogue – The Stars Are Shining On My Head: Sukkot
If you have a copy of the book, please consider reading chapters 4-6 and then coming to our Torah study this week (whether or not you also come to services — though hey, why not do both? ;-) If you don’t have a copy of the book, or don’t have time to read it this week, never fear: I will put together a handout which contains some choice quotes from these chapters so that we all have something we can discuss.
Hope to see y’all this Shabbat for services and/or Torah study! This book really does put the Days of Awe into a beautiful and meaningful new perspective — I look forward to discussing it with y’all on Saturday morning.
Blessings to all,