This week, we welcome the new month of Elul. Three significant events took place just in the first week of Elul, each of which, has something to teach us about personal growth as we prepare for the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim, The High Holidays.)
On the 1st of Elul (1313 BCE), this Friday, Moses ascends Sinai for the 3rd 40 day period, taking with him the tablets he made.
Get ready to ascend a mountain. Recognize that personal growth and development requires effort and commitment. “The reward is commensurate with the effort” (Ethics of the Fathers, 5:23.)
Also, this is Moses’ 3rd attempt up the mountain and only at the end of these 40 days, does he gain full reconciliation between God and the Jewish people. So if you fall, just get back up and keep trying.
On the 2nd of Elul (1555 S), the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim), the code of Jewish law was completed by Rabbi Yosef Cairo.
The Code of Jewish Law is full of the hows and whats of Jewish practice. Look to it as you scale the mountain. As much as you support it by taking on more of what it says, it supports you. Choose one or two practices found in it and take it on, even if it’s for a short time or very “small.” Do a bit more than you are used to. Or do less of something you know you shouldn’t be doing. Each person knows themselves and what they could focus on. You access the code organized by topic HERE. Pick a theme that speaks to you, open it up and see what you discover.
Finally, on the 7th of Elul (1394 BCE ), Moses’ parents remarry. His parents separated so any newborn son would not be killed by Pharaoh and they remarried after hearing Miriam’s rebuke (“Pharaoh decreed against the males and you decreed against both males and females by not having any children.”) Recommit to those closest to you in your life. Even though there are difficult aspects to these relationships, take pleasure in the relationship itself and realize the consequence of not nurturing it adequately (like Miriam’s rebuke to her parents.)
There’s the old joke about a wife who complains to her Rabbi that her husband doesn’t say “I love you’. The husband turns to her and says, ‘I said it to you 25 years ago when we got married. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.
It’s okay, and praiseworthy, to add love and commitment to those nearest and dearest. It’s precisely those who we might easily take for granted (because of our familiarity with them) that need it the most.
The same applies to God. Perhaps because God is so close that He’s the easiest to overlook. How can you express love and commitment to God? How can you express greater love and commitment to your love ones?
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom and a successful journey up the mountain!
Elul Daily Jolt
For the month of Elul (starting this Thursday), I will be recording short (5 minute) daily ideas to help us best prepare for the holidays together. I will be posting the videos via youtube. They can be watched HERE.
Virtual Hallel- Rosh Chodesh Elul
- This Thursday (8/20) and Friday (8/21) at 9:00 am
Together As One Program
Sunday, August 30 at 1 pm
We are excited to let you know about Mizrachi’s Together As One program where we have been put in touch with a community in Israel. The goal of the program is to reinforce the connection and sense of mutual responsibility within the Jewish people, esp. between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. Our partners will be the Tiferet Becker Synagogue in Rishon L’Tzyion, Israel.
Please stay tuned for further details.
Contemporary Issues in Jewish Thought
Sunday, 8/23, 9/16, 9/13
In the coming weeks, we will be covering novel issues that will arise during the High Holidays. For example, do we need to hear all 100 shofar blasts? Can one or cover the shofar with a mask to reduce the spread of germs? Which sections can or should be excluded in order to shorten the service? If you have any particular questions, please let me know.