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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ellul the Month of Change, Transition and Teshuva, Repentance

It just hit me.  We're in the midst of the Jewish Month of Ellul, the month before Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur when we're supposed to prepare.  No, I'm not talking about cooking in advance, buying new clothes (drop in where I work) and other mundane things.  Ellul is about the spirit, our religious, moral, spiritual evolution, change, teshuva, repentance, getting closer to G-d.

I should have followed the bima ima's example.

And I can't use that the excuse that I was busy or distracted by my son's wedding and prior to that my mother's death, because nobody has been busier than the Bima Ima and family with their concerns and care for Superman Sam.

Last night I admired the full moon and said to a friend. 
"From the fullness of the moon, I can see that my son and his wife got married exactly two weeks ago."

Yes, they got married on Rosh Chodesh Ellul.  Some other family members who attended the wedding came up to them to inform them that they all share the same anniversary.  Apparently, it's a very popular wedding day.  That's where my mind has been.

And now we're less than two weeks to Rosh Hashannah the beginning of the Jewish Year, when we're supposed to work hard cleaning our souls from sin.  I'm going to quickly go through the first half of the Bima Ima's list, and bli neder* (not a vow) continue more later on, G-d willing.  I don't know if I'm doing this right, but I'll give my interpretation of what these actions mean in Ellul.  I can't do justice to these as separate blog posts, because we're more than halfway through Ellul. 
  1. prepare- Prepare for both the expected and the unexpected, because G-d likes to surprise us, and sometimes the surprises aren't all that pleasant.
  2. act- Act, do and not say "We would if..." We have to take what we have and make the best of it.
  3. bless- Bless G-d and each other.  Make even our difficulties a blessing.  See the cup as partially full, even if it's only a quarter full.
  4. accept- Accept what we can't change and don't waste energies on things we can't control.  Accept the challenge and "make lemonade."
  5. know- Add to knowledge; it gives us the power of understanding and can be a comfort. 
  6. do- Do, don't procrastinate.  That's a hard one for me. 
  7. be- Be the best you can and accept yourself.
  8. believe- Believe in G-d and His rules aka Mitzvot.
  9. hear- Hear even what isn't being said in words.  G-d speaks to us in many ways.
  10. see-  See G-d and blessings in everything, even though it is sometimes very difficult.
  11. count- Count the good G-d has given, especially when it's hard.  And calculate the time you have, so you can fit all your responsibilities in.  Plan.
  12. trust- Trust that it will all work out. Sometimes it takes a long distance to see clearly.  Yesterday I was in the museum, and we saw a picture that was so beautiful.  But then as we got close up it looked ugly.
  13. forgive- Forgive people. Don't waste your energies fighting, hating and being negative.  And most important, forgive yourself.  We're not all powerful and we're not G-d.
  14. remember- Remember the good; use it as a foundation for a happy life. 
  15. learn- Learn something new all the time.  Don't get into a rut. 
  16. change- Change is a key to Judaism. That's Teshuva, Repentance the power to change, improve ourselves.  Try small doable changes, improvements.  There's the response one says to someone who did a chessed, kind act: "Tizke (or tizki in the feminine) l'mitzvot." "May you merit more mitzvoth."  The more we change ourselves to the better, the more sincere our Teshuva," the easier it becomes to do more.

*The Erev (Eve of ) Yom Kippur prayer, Kol Nidrei is to cancel vows we shouldn't have made.  Yes, it's time to really get into "Ellul mode."

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