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Preparing our Bodies and Souls

08/03/2021 11:32:19 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

It may be hard to believe, especially with the intensity of the summer heat at an all time high, but fall is just around the corner. And with it, we can all look forward to slightly cooler days, a new school year, and of course, the High Holy Days. The end of summer also means that the new Hebrew month of Elul begins this Sunday. Elul, the month that immediately precedes the High Holy Days, offers each of us the opportunity for introspection and Cheshbon HaNefesh, an accounting of our souls. 

This year, I'd like to suggest that in addition to preparing our souls for the New Year, we need to refocus on preparing our bodies as well. For the past 18 months, we have all thought intensely about our health and well-being, but not necessarily beyond the desire to prevent sickness. Now, we have the chance to turn our attention to our entire being, body and soul. 

We use our senses to experience the holidays, the physical reminders that we are connected to ourselves, to each other, and to God. We feel the joy and sweetness on Rosh Hashanah as we indulge in apples and honey, and listen to the sound of the shofar. We feel the pain of teshuvah on Yom Kippur as we fast and go without food and water for 24 hours. So, what do we do prepare our bodies for these sensations?

To prepare your eyes, turn off the TV and read a favorite book. See what new things you can discover from those well-loved pages. Or, read something completely new. Explore a new world and engage your mind.

To prepare your ears, take a moment to listen to complete silence. What can you pick up from the outside world? Which familiar white noises now sound sharper and more obvious? Then, listen to an old song, one you haven’t heard in a while. Do the lyrics sound the same as they used to? What feeling does that tune evoke inside of you today?

To prepare your nose, inhale deeply several times a day. Is there something new in the air? Is it sweet or sour? Try this in different locations at different times of day. What can your sense of smell discover in the world?

To prepare your tongue, create a new dish. Use spices you’ve never tried before, or something you thought you definitely would not like. Have your tastes changed? Did a new creation inspire you in new and creative ways?

To prepare your entire body, take a walk outside. Walk slowly and look at the world around you. Walk quickly and feel your heart beat faster. Wait for a cool breeze to blow your hair back. Listen to the birds chirp and sing. Smell the flowers blooming. Let the sun or moon shine on your face. Allow the world to bring balance and wholeness to your entire body.

The holidays are about so much more than our souls; they are about our entire being. Take the time to prepare yourself for a new year, a year of change and transition, a year of focus and calm. Let your body and soul become one as they prepare for the year ahead, a year of sweetness and peace.

Fri, September 30 2022 5 Tishrei 5783