This Shabbat is the start of Elul, the month leading up to the High Holy Days. It is a month of reflection and repentance, when we perform a cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul) and examine our deeds over the past year.
During the month of Elul, it is traditional to blow the shofar daily (except on Shabbat).
The shofar is blown each day during the month of Elul to instill in us a small measure of fear [Amos 3:6 “Can a shofar be blown in the city and the people not tremble?”], to rouse us from our complacency, and to inspire us to get busy with the hard work of repentance, seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged. This, in turn, enables us to move past our mistakes, and live closer to the ideal of who we aspire to be as individuals.
In addition to blowing the shofar, Elul traditions include visiting the graves of loved ones, and reciting Psalm 27 each day of the month.
This contemporary poem was adapted from Psalm 27:
“Good morning, God, happy Elul.
This day, one thing do I ask of you, God,
One thing do I seek:
To dwell in your house
All the days of my life.
… and while I dwell with you
Perhaps a few more things I might request:
Good health is at the top of my list—
For me, my family, my loved ones,
While we’re at it how about everyone, everywhere.
And perhaps food:A healthy nosh for all who are hungry.
Quench all hunger and thirst with your love.
We do hunger for more than food and drink, so
Please quench other needs as well.
Okay, how ‘bout safety.
Safety from earthquakes, hurricanes,
Safety from one another.
Safety from all that frightens us
Safety to rest in your care.
Please give us much fun, silliness to giggle at, many many smiles.
Smiles as we watch children investigate their worlds,
Smiles as we explore the lives of our elders.
God, let me behold your graciousness
Today… each day of Elul… each day
Of this year, and next, and then the next,
While I visit your temple
And immerse in your love.” by Rabbi Patti Haskell
Whatever your level of engagement in the process of repentance, I hope that you find meaning during this reflective month of Elul.
Shana tovah u’metukah – wishing all a good and sweet year to come!