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Experiencing Elul through words, our breath

08/10/2021 02:52:08 PM


Sarah Avner

This past Sunday evening we welcomed in the Hebrew month of Elul. With a very new moon in the sky, we know that we are now just 4 weeks from Rosh Hashanah, the head of the New Year. If you haven’t read Rabbi Levy’s blog from last week, then I suggest you do so now. She lays out a wonderful plan of doing the work this month demands of us through our senses.

Her first suggestion is that we “prepare our eyes” by turning off the tv and reading a book. For the past three years we have been doing this during our Erev Shabbat services thanks to a new siddur (prayer book) published by the CCAR Press: Mishkan Halev. This text provides wonderful readings and meditations to help us prepare for the month of Tishri when we will welcome in the New Year, self-reflect throughout the hours of Yom Kippur, welcome guests into our sukkot, and celebrate coming to the end of the Torah and returning to the beginning.

As this coming Friday will be the first shabbat in the month of Elul we will once again explore excerpts from this wonderful resource. I am particularly fond of this reading:

Elul: An Island in the Year

Before we slip too quickly into the Season of the Soul —

 let there be a Sabbath of Sabbaths for the heart.

Before the music of Creation’s majesty —

 let there be a silent praise of existence.

Before the feast of sanctified words —

 let there be a poetry of solitude.

Before we enter the palaces of prayer —

 let us find within ourselves a place of calm.   

Before we revel in the wondrous and sublime —

 let there be an honest, inward gaze.

Before the rites and ceremonies of Awe —

 let there be quieter days, an island of attentiveness.

I invite all of us to spend some minutes meditating on these words - just one stanza a day. Breathing in, breathing out, feeling our feet connected to the earth, connected to creation – silently praising our existence, finding poetry in solitude, etc.

I look forward to walking the days of Elul with all of you as we struggle with the reality of our daily grind. Decisions we used to take for granted: sending young children to school, going out for dinner, making plans for travel and family visits, have gotten complicated and take up far more of our emotional energy than ever before, may a few minutes of deep breathing bring us some relief.

Fri, September 30 2022 5 Tishrei 5783