- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On August 17, 2018
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat.
When you look outside tonight up at the night sky, there is much you will see as your eyes search the heavens. The stars, clouds, and the milky way form a canopy of darkness and light. You will also see a thin sliver of the new moon.
The moon becomes an important sign for us as it waxes and wanes for its 29/30 day cycle. Starting as a sliver in the shape of the Hebrew letter resh, it reaches its full self half way through the month only to wane back to a sliver again by the end. But, this new moon, which arrived earlier this week has a particular significance. It serves as a reminder that we have only one month left to prepare ourselves. As the moon of the Hebrew month of Elul grows larger and then smaller, it will bring us to the month of Tishrei, which contains the Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah.
We may understand that our spiritual work commences in Tishrei, but it is actually the spiritual, introspective work we engage in during this month of Elul that lays the foundation to benefit from the purpose of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
T’shuvah, the act of turning to find our best selves, does not occur because Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur has arrived. We all know this and yet, the new moon of Elul challenges us to challenge ourselves to take this time to prepare; to begin the process of T’shuvah. Our tradition does not call upon us to declare, “Repent! The end is near, damnation looms!” Rather, we are taught, “Repent, the beginning is near, renewal is possible, attainable, even palpable if we recognize our human foibles and seek to correct where we have erred.
T’shuvah is our escape route from a life filled with the burden of regret and sorrow, the “would have, could have, should haves” of our lives. With its fundamental components of correcting our transgressions, expressing our regret and confessing to our grievous actions, t’shuvah offers us the opportunity to “wipe the slate” clean and begin again.
Moses Maimonides’ words summon us each year:
Awaken, you sleepers from your sleep and you slumberers from your slumber.
Search your actions and return in repentance. (t’shuvah)
For all of us, too, for the next four weeks, we have this month to awaken to the potential that Elul offers. At Qabbalat Shabbat, we will study the teachings of Rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman’s Peace of Mind, include some High Holy day melodies, and hear the sound of the shofar. So, let’s watch the moon of Elul closely as we embark on the journey of T’shuvah. When Tishrei begins and we light the candles for Rosh Hashanah, we will be ready as the old year 5778 and its curses come to an end, and the new year 5779 and its blessings begin.
INSIDE is where we will be tonight for Qabbalat Shabbat, beginning at 6:00 p.m. If you cannot join us, live stream HERE. The Riverway Project (20s & 30s) gathers at 7:00 p.m. for Soul Food Friday. Tomorrow, Torah Study starts at 9:00 a.m. with a short service followed by a lively discussion. Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat (TGIS) for the little ones will get together with Wayne Potash at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel.
I look forward to your thoughts, connect with me directly HERE.