It may be hard to believe that Rosh HaShanah is less than two weeks away. Are we ready?
This Shabbat is the 18th of Elul, the month of reflection and longing that leads up to the 1st of Tishrei on Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe. Elul is an acronym It may be hard to believe that Rosh HaShanah is less than two weeks away. Are we ready?
This Shabbat is the 18th of Elul, the month of reflection and longing that leads up to the 1st of Tishrei on Rosh HaShanah and the Days of Awe. Elul is an acronym for the phrase from the Song of Songs (6:3), ani l’dodi v’dodi li, “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” The foundation for the possibility of change is love and relationship with God, which is how I imagine the source of love and acceptance that makes us feel safe to examine our deeds and to be able to change.
I have always loved that the Song of Songs is the megillah, or scroll of Khetuvim (Writings of the Hebrew Bible) associated with Yom Kippur. For the rabbis, the Song of Songs is an allegorical love story between the Jewish people and God. Why does Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year come before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? Rabbi Michael Strassfeld teaches in A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism As a Spiritual Practice that we enter the New Year not with our slate clean or all our relationships repaired. We enter Rosh HaShanah with the promise of change. He writes: “This promise [of change] supports us as we struggle with the past and with the nagging feeling that nothing ever changes. Though these may be our thirtieth or fiftieth High Holidays, many of us are still dealing with the same issues that we struggled with last year or ten years ago. Rosh HaShanah says that change is possible. The Torah readings speak of pregnancy in old age and a slaughter knife halted in mid-decent. The possibilities of the future lie stretched out before us.”
In our personal and communal season of reflection, renewal and transformation I bless each of us to re-connect with our relationship with God in the next week and a half. However you best feel connected to God’s love—whether at services at Sinai, in nature or a hot air balloon, on a quiet walk or meditation, we enter Rosh HaShanah with remembering God’s presence in our lives. From there, we might uncover the personal safety to examine our deeds in a way that feels supportive and reconnect with the love of relationships all around us.
Shana Tova and I look forward to a meaningful Days of Awe in community with you!