Tuesday, August 6, 2013

1 Elul 5773/Aug. 7 2013

The month of Elul precedes the High Holidays. Its 28 days are meant as a time for introspection, learning and growth. Judaism teaches that we don’t just walk into the Rosh Hashanah service, all ready to go. Elul is a ‘warm-up’ time, allowing us to spiritually stretch ourselves to prepare for the intensity (and joy) of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  For the last few years, some colleagues and I have collaborated on a project that we call “Elul Thoughts.”  As I mentioned in the August bulletin, every day during the Hebrew month of Elul you will receive a brief message in your inbox from me with one of these thoughts.  The purpose of these messages is to get us ready for the High Holy Days, just as Elul provides this readiness for the Jewish people all over the world.
This year’s Elul Thoughts represent a compilation of brief teachings from Rabbi Rachel G. Greengrass from Temple Beth Am in Miami, Florida; Rabbi Bradley G. Levenberg from Temple Sinai in Atlanta, Georgia; Rabbi Eric G. Linder from Temple Israel in Athens, Georgia; Rabbi Alan E. Litwak from Temple Sinai in North Miami Beach, Florida; Rabbi Daniel N. Treiser from Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater, Florida; and Rabbi David N. Young from Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Fountain Valley, California. 

Observant Jews:

When the Jewish community talks about Jews being "observant," it usually means that they follow the mitzvot - those sacred obligations that define us as Jews.  One of the rabbis that I studied with this summer made the following play on words: "Most American Jews are observant . . . all they do is observe, not participate." 

The month of Elul is a time to reassess who we are and what we are doing.  This can mean repairing our interpersonal relationships.  We can use the month to evaluate our work situation.  You can skip the December/January rush and not just make some new resolutions, but actually accomplish them.  You can find deep meaning in living a Jewish life.  The key to all of this is participation; not standing by the sidelines watching others do it.


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