Tuesday, August 28, 2012

#BlogElul week 2: Sharing Inspirational postings

This past Shabbat, reflecting upon the arrival of Elul with my congregation, I mentioned that I would use my own blog to share some of the other contributions to #BlogElul that have been inspiring me.  First, a brief excerpt from my sermon, where I offered some thoughts on what this month of preparation is all about.  After all, the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur feel intense enough to many of us... what purpose does thinking about this entire month as 'preparation' time serve?

Rabbi Alan Lew, z'l, wrote a book, ‘This is Real and You are CompletelyUnprepared’.  He’s talking about our souls.  We may think we are prepared – prepared for work, for the week ahead, for the weekend.  We may prepare ourselves for life by studying hard, learning a trade, earning a living, participating in family life or community life.  But soul preparation is a different thing.
  • We know that we’ve prepared our souls when we have something to fall back upon in a moments of crisis.
  • We know that we’ve prepared our souls when the words that come out of our mouths in the heat of the moment are the same as the ones we would say if we had time to reflect first.
  • We know that we’ve prepared our souls when we are able to articulate what we believe and why.
  • We know that we’ve prepared our souls when we can make ‘big talk’ and not just ‘small talk’ in our interactions with other people.
  • We know that we’ve prepared our souls when we’ve made choices about how we structure our day such that we have space for something that nourishes the spirit – taking a walk, a swim, meditating, yoga, quiet reading time…
  • We know that we’ve prepared our souls when we can find the spark of holiness in the midst of the messiness of everyday life.
  • We know that we’ve prepared our souls when we feel a sense of inner peace and wholeness.  If this day were to be our last (the big question that, with courage, is the question to explore on Yom Kippur), could we find that place of inner peace?
I don’t think that there is anyone in this room, myself included, who can answer ‘yes’ to most of those questions.  Spiritual preparedness takes practice.

I sang an excerpt from Psalm 27, traditionally recited during this month.  The Institute for Jewish Spirituality shared a beautiful, interpretative rendition to this psalm written by Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg.  You can find, at along with several other wonderful sources to guide spiritual practice and introspection this month here.

There have been many wonderful contributions to the #BlogElul project this past week.  If you are not a twitter user and haven't been keeping track of multiple blogs, it can be hard to track them all down.  Here are just a few of my favorites as a sample to introduce you to the writings of some of the other contributors.

The Musings of Rabbi Eric Linder (one of my fellow graduates from HUC-NY, 2006!)

Kol Isha: Reform women rabbis speak out! - a wonderful, new blog, featuring a different woman rabbi each day - many have been posting on #BlogElul themes.

A Good Question - the blog of Rabbi Yair Robinson

#BlogElul via the movies - a novel window to look at some Elul themes, from Rabbi Mark Kaiserman

I hope you find some of these intriguing and inspiring.
Below is a review of the themes of each day of the month (we're up to day 10!).  If you don't have a blog of your own, but would like to have a go at writing a reflection on one of the day's themes, email it to me and I'll post yours here on this blog in the coming days.

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz

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