Sunday, August 31, 2014

Elul, The Month of Repentance

This has been an awful summer for the Jewish People. The State of Israel has been under attack, children were kidnapped and murdered and the defensive war was stopped before we had done the job of destroying our enemies.

But our calendar, that very amazing Jewish Calendar that so accurately combines the solar and lunar cycles, keeps ticking on. It is now the month of Elul which is the month leading up to the holiest days of the year, Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. In preparation, we must repent, and to do that we must reflect on everything we've done this past year, good and bad and try to make it better according to G-d's criteria. The very popular Jewish blogger, the "Bima Ima," has a wonderful way to do it, which she calls the #BlogElul .

I think it's a very good guide, especially for those of us who do not to shul daily for the Slichot Prayers. According to Jewish Law, there are mitzvot and their antonyms, sins, that affect not only our relationship with G-d but also our relationship between fellow man, other people. They can be public or private. If we sin against a person, it is just as serious, if not more so, than sinning against G-d. Repenting, apologizing and trying to undo the damage is all part of doing Teshuva, repenting. So I will begin this with the following:
I publicly apologize to anyone I may have wronged, whether willfully or unintentionally. I will do my best never to harm you again. Please forgive me.
And now, since it's the fifth day of Elul, I'll write a short reflection on the first five categories in the Bima Ima's chart.

  1. Do: Starting the process of intense Teshuva is the hardest. I hope that this post will get the ball rolling for me and help others, too.
  2. Act: Learning to act differently is difficult. This Month of Elul, thank G-d, I managed to work better with someone. That doesn't mean being socially friendly. It's being pragmatic. We don't have to love or like everyone, but we must know how to establish a working relationship. Acting can be superficial, but that doesn't mean that it's bad.
  3. Bless: As a salesperson during the most stressful season, before school starts, I've been learning to bless the young customers which helps them and their stressed out parents leave the store feeling better.
  4. Accept: Not only do I have to accept my limitations and make sure that people don't push me into going beyond, but I must accept and respect that others, too, can't do as much as I would like them to do. But accept does not mean that we must be lazy; we should still try to do more and stretch ourselves.
  5. Know: The word "know," ידע from the Hebrew root of yud, dalet, eyin appears very significantly in the Bible. It's not an academic knowledge, it's more of an acceptance of G-d's power over everything. It's also a comprehension, seeing events in a multidimensional way. A leader without ידע true knowledge/comprehension/recognition of G-d makes horrendous and dangerous mistakes. We have to know and accept that it is G-d that makes the world go around. We have the Free Will to join or fight Him. It's our challenge to make the right decisions even when most difficult. I wish to bless our political leaders with this knowledge and the faith in G-d to act in the right way, do what must be done to rescue our embattled country, the State of Israel. I accept that they are weak humans, no better or stronger than me or anyone else. I am not in their position. May G-d strengthen them and forgive us all.
Please take on this challenge, too, and add or links via my comments, thanks.

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