Tonight begins Rosh Chodesh Elul, the 12TH and final month in the Jewish calendar. The month of Elul leads up to Rosh HaShanah, the beginning of the new year, so Elul both chronologically and spiritually connects the past with the future.
This unique period of time gives us the opportunity to enter the High Holydays with a “running start” as we begin the process of dedicating ourselves to the process of cheshbon hanefesh (“soul accounting” or “soul searching”), taking stock of the ways in which we have lived our lives during the past year, and creatively considering the ways in which we can draw closer to ourselves, to each other, to our planet, and to God in the coming year.
Those of us who have been to symphony halls to watch piano concertos performed are used to seeing the soloist dramatically take the stage, bow to applause, and then immediately commence playing the featured selection with the orchestra.
But up until the mid-20th century, there was a very different “choreography” prior to the performance. Most pianists would enter and spend some time doing scales and playing warm-up pieces before readying themselves for their collaboration with the orchestra.
Similarly, many of us are used to simply “taking the stage” on Rosh Hashanah and beginning the 10 Days of Repentance in shul at that moment. The spiritual practice of daily prayer, reflection, and meditation through the month of Elul, however, provides us with a gentler, more patient and thoughtful passage-way into the Yamim Noraim, raising the likelihood that our journey into and through the Holy Days is rich with illumination, inspiration and a sense of purpose.
I am looking forward to helping to facilitate our congregational journey during this unusual and disquieting time, and to witnessing our collective capacity to grow and evolve as we travel together.
What prompted you to decide to join Oseh’s Elul project this year?
What do you hope to gain as a result of participating?