August 12, 2007

The month of Elul

"I have set before you life and death . . Therefore, choose life, that both you and your seed may live." -Deuteronomy 30:8
Oh, do I want to live, yes, more than anything, I want to know life and a life full of love and prayer and obedience to HaShem. I suppose you can say that I live an emotional life, not always predicated by my intellect, but a life in which I respond to things with a feeling more often than with an intellectual response. In some cases, being emotional has saved my life, because I felt danger and I reacted. In other cases, it made me happy, because I fell in love and married a wonderful guy. But probably the majority of the time, I feel sadness, because I still grieve for my father, I miss my dog, my aging mother is lonely and sad and I can't do anything to prevent it, I have had to abandon my trust in others, I have no relationship with my brother, I mourn the loss of being able to demonstrate my pride in being an American because the "Hate America" crowd is too powerful in this country, I miss my youth, I miss the old days with my family, I regret that I have not yet been to Israel to make aliyah, and the list goes on and on.

One feeling that I have that has just begun to stir my heart is the fact that Yom Kippur is coming; this is the month of Elul. I just feel it, I feel something and it is unusal for me to even think about it weeks before it has arrived. This never happened to me before. My spirit is being moved. I hope it means that HaShem is finding merit in me. Why else would the spark in me be so noticeable now? The smell in the afternoon air a few days ago and the way the cool wind blew, and the shadow of the sun as it was beginning its descent into the evening sky reminded me that Yom Kippur is coming and that we are at the beginning of the month of repentance. Indeed, Rosh Chodesh Elul begins at sundown on Monday, August 13, 2007. The month of Elul is a month of preparation for the month of Tishre and the Days of Awe, Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur. During this entire month we sound the Shofar every morning after our prayers to help prepare us to repent and purify ourselves for a good New Year. The most important time of the Jewish year is often the most awesome and inspiring as well as the most misunderstood. Here's all the basics you need to know.