Thursday, September 17, 2009

Elul 29. Reflections on a month of soul-preparation

Tonight is the last night of the blog before Erev Rosh Hashanah.  For those who have written, read or contributed, I hope that it has provided an opportunity for daily pause and reflection and that this year's Rosh Hashanah, 10 days of repentance, and Yom Kippur, we are able entered more mindfully and more centered as a result of these daily moments of reflection.  

Last Saturday night, when our local communities joined together for a staged reading of Merle Feld's 'The Gates are Closing', we learnt about 10 individuals and the pains, losses, guilt, silences, and fractures that each character carried from the lives they had lived up to this moment.  From the perspective of the audience it was so powerfully evident that no-one who begins to reflect on the parts of their lives that need healing and the places where teshuvah can help them reconnect, re-center, and drawer closer to a God-presence in their lives when they enter a synagogue sanctuary on Yom Kippur, can possibly hope to complete the process in a 25 hour period. We need time to contemplate, to speak healing, forgiving, or confessional words to others, to God, and to re-commit ourselves to aiming toward new patterns of behavior in the coming years.  The month of Elul provides us with the gift of this time, if we choose to accept it.

But while these days are Judaism's annual invitation to return, the possibility is always there.  If we are open to God's comforting Presence, accompanying us and holding us as we find the courage to do the difficult work of teshuvah and growth, we will find that the gates never truly close.

Over this past month Sh'ma Koleinu - Hear Our Voices, has received more than 500 visitors.  The blog will be continuing into the New Year, not on a daily basis (although a kabbalistic reflection series is in the works when we arrive at the Counting of the Omer, after Pesach), but there will be more coming between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a weekly reflection just before Shabbat, and festival reflections throughout the year.  An invitation to share teachings, practices, and reflections remains open - we continue to strive to expand the number of voices represented on these pages, so please do send in pieces that you'd like to contribute.

Wishing everyone a Shanah Tovah u'm'tukah - a very Happy & Sweet New Year,
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz

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