22 Elul 5783/September 8, 2023 & 23 Elul 5783/September 9, 2023
by Cantor Laurie Weinstein
Confucius taught, “To put the world in order, first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, put the family in order; to put the family in order, first cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, first set our hearts right.”
Elul awakens us to delve into the deepest recesses of our minds while preparing us to examine the year gone by through chesbon hanefesh, an accounting of the soul. How might we “set our hearts right?” The liturgy sets us on the pathway to achieving this, but reciting only the words has no effect if we refuse to change course.
Change is difficult but no change in course will result in destruction. No panacea exists for changing course, except for the will of the spirit. The will of spirit emerges from study, questioning, and wrestling, individually and in community. We investigate our past for clues about ourselves, and we are continually working toward future days. Yet, we are in a constant state of awareness. We must dwell in the present moment and hold ourselves accountable for decisions we make individually and collectively.
By living in the present, we receive strength to be aware when we begin to veer off course. We are human and will fall short, but each day is a new day in creation where we can strive to be closer to the Divine life with which we are blessed. This Elul may we set our hearts right.
23 Elul 5783/September 9, 2023
by Rabbi Erin Boxt
One of the most important themes of the month of Elul is: Selichot - what does this mean? It means forgiveness. As we ponder and reflect on our accomplishments and challenges of the previous year, we also look ahead asking God for forgiveness. When we think of forgiveness, many images come to mind - one image, purity is represented in many ways in Judaism. What can we do during this time of deep reflection to make sure we changeour behaviors for the better in the new year to come? How do we change from impure to pure? One of our holy rituals is to change our Torah covers to all white, reflecting the images of purity and forgiveness. As the month of Elul is flying by – leading us to the Jewish new year of 5784, let the images of white and purity allow you to come to the High Holy Days with a clear mind, focused on making yourself the best you can be in the upcoming year.