We’re currently in the Hebrew month of Elul, the month preceding the High Holy Days. Elul is a month of cheshbon nefesh, an accounting of the soul. It’s the time for reflection and introspection – a time to take stock of the preceding year, prepare yourself to repent and ask forgiveness, and think about the coming year and what you’ll do differently. In some ways, it’s like the secular new year – a chance to renew and restart. The shofar is sounded every morning in services during the month of Elul to rouse us to action – the action being the hard work of processing events in the year that’s ending, digging deeper into our intentions and stop living on the surface of our lives.
“Elul” is interpreted by many as being an acronym for “Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi Li” – I am my beloved and my beloved is mine. The “Beloved” here is, of course, God. It’s a time to explore your relationship with God and to renew and recommit to it. And not just your relationship with God, but with your partner, your children, your community – all the relationships that make up who you are.
For me, Elul has overtones of Pesach. My desire to study the Haggadah to find new meaning and insights gets lost in the preparation. So, with Elul, my good intentions come to fruition a little late for me to have time for meaningful reflection.
Rosh Hashanah starts Sunday, September 25. One idea that I like, is each of the days leading up to it, write in a journal about the past year. It can be about an event of the year past that you either regret or are proud of, people you need to forgive or be forgiven by things you would’ve done differently or what you hope for the new year.
While the past year brought many sorrows and disappoints, one thing I’m incredibly grateful for is the new relationships I’ve formed with the women of Hadassah, my service organization. In that respect, 5782 was an exceptionally good year. I’m looking forward to working with these women next year, doing what we do best – repairing and healing the world together. Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tovah um’tukah.