A good Chodesh Elul, everyone! The month of Elul in Aramaic means “to search” as the spiritual project of this month is “searching our souls” and beginning the process of repentance and forgiveness that culminates with Yom Kippur on the 10th of Tishrei. “Elul” is also said to be an acronym for “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” from the Song of Songs 6:3, in which the “Beloved” is God and the “I” is the Jewish people. Thus, our task in Elul is to examine our deeds over the past year, and determine which relationships are in need of repair. Then, we begin the harder work of doing this repair. It is also a time of re-examining our values and being honest about the extent to which our lives align with them. This work of self-critical introspection needs also to be tempered by compassion for ourselves and others. This is the time to approach others in our community, whom you may have wronged or been rude to in the past, and apologize.
Apologies can be very powerful. They inspire a mood of compassion in the person who receives the apology, and may result in them apologizing to you as well, for their part in the mess you each likely had a part in creating. While one does not apologize in order to receive an apology oneself, this is a frequent and lovely, unexpected result of being the first to apologize.
This is a time to examine the extent of one’s own self-care, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness and check-in on goals that relate to one’s inner life and spiritual growth. In addition to journaling, you are always welcome to make a short appointment with me as your rabbi to discuss your spiritual goals and matters of the inner life. Please email me to make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you each a meaningful, honest and introspective Elul as we each reconnect with God as Beloved, and seek out a stronger relationship both with God and our own, deeply-held Jewish values, as we strive to manifest these values in our lives and the world.