Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,
You may have noticed the glorious full moon last night — it’s this year’s harvest moon, because it’s the full moon which falls closest to the autumn equinox. It’s also the full moon of the month of Elul, which means that Rosh Hashanah begins two weeks from tonight. As this moon wanes, so does the Jewish year of 5774 which has almost come to its end.
One Jewish tradition teaches that this is the month to take stock of our relationships, and to make whatever emotional and interpersonal repairs are necessary. During Elul we make teshuvah (repentance / return) in our relationships with each other; during the Ten Days of Teshuvah between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we make teshuvah in our relationship with our Source.
Over these final two weeks of the Jewish year, I invite you to spend a few minutes every day thinking about the year now ending. What were its highlights for you? What are the sweet parts you want to be sure to remember? And what were its low points, times of grief or depression or places where you missed the mark for which you had aimed? Lift up the good memories and affix them in your minds and hearts; and as for the hard parts, glean what lessons you can from them in retrospect, and try to let them go.
At Selichot services on September 20 (8pm, potluck dessert reception to follow) we’ll sing some of the sweet melodies and prayers of the High Holiday season, getting our hearts and souls “warmed up” for the big days to come. We’ll also have an opportunity to write down the places where we feel we’ve missed the mark, and the misdeeds for which we feel we need forgiveness, to be placed anonymously in the communal basket.
Until then, I wish for you that you might find meaning in this journey of teshuvah during the old year’s final two weeks.
Blessings to all,
If you’re looking for resources for this season…
- Elul ReSources at Kol ALEPH, including poems, prayers, meditations, and a forgiveness practice
- Elul Week Three: forgiving ourselves, forgiving others by Rabbi Yael Levy at Mishkan Shalom
- Rabbi Rachel’s daily poems for #blogElul