Shabbat Shalom! According to my favorite Jewish website, myjewishlearning.com, Elul is the month of preparation and shofar blowing. What is it that we should do in preparation for the High Holydays? 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.
For the Sephardic community, this process started last Saturday evening as we began the month of Elul. For the Ashkenazi community, to which most of us affiliate ourselves, this process of Selichot begins at the end of Shabbat preceding Rosh Hashanah. Since this process shouldn’t be rushed, there is a ruling that there should be a minimum of 4 days between Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah. This year is one of those rare years when the rule must be applied so please join us for our Selichot program and service on September 8 (programs for all ages start at 6:30pm, service is at 7:30pm).
During Elul, it is customary to blow the shofar each day as a rallying cry towards repentance and self-reflection. Its echoes are meant to move us toward inscription in the Book of Life. Last year, we began the custom of sounding the shofar during the month of Elul as we prepare for Shabbat, after our opening songs and before L’cha Dodi, when we usher in the Sabbath bride. Please join us this Shabbat to hear one of our amazing volunteers blow the shofar and to begin your own personal journey towards a cheshbon hanefesh, accounting of your soul. For more information about the shofar and High Holyday preparations please enjoy these articles: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Rosh_Hashanah/In_the_Community/Shofar.shtml and http://blogs.rj.org/blog/2012/08/21/rosh-hashanah-teaches-us-about-making-every-moment-count/.
As the New Year approaches, I hope that if I have wronged or hurt you in any way, that you will find a way to forgive me so that we can move into the year 5773 with a clean slate and open hearts and minds. Please know that I forgive you for anything that you might have said or done during the past year that might have hurt me and that I hope that we will find a way in the coming year to study, learn, sing and pray together in a relationship of understanding and love.