As we move, during the month of September, through Elul, the Hebrew month that introduces the Days of Awe, the focus is on changing direction, defragmenting, re-tooling, re-balancing, reorientation… turning from what is bad to see and do good.
The letters of Elul introduce four words: “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li”, from Song of Songs, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine”, considered to be an allusion to the love of a person for God, expressed in how we cherish people in our lives. The focus on turning is one of appreciation that we/you are not alone. In fullness of imagination and trust, having God in your life translates as seeing that Presence in people, time and circumstances that are part of your life. The intent of Elul is to move us from “I” to “We”, from each being on her/his own to sharing life’s journey with others and knowing that is our purpose.
While it is common to think of Jewish ritual as symbolic, the agenda of the Days of Awe, to which Elul points, is to reorient from individuality to communal consciousness and commitment. While doing so seems like a nice idea, in these times, doing so is a strategy for minimizing stress and maximizing hope when so much around us seems to be going wrong.
In a time when economic problems infect the whole world, and political stability for many regions and nations is in doubt, even as Israel ponders the impact of changes in the neighborhood on its security, individually we are overloaded with concerns and worries as global and regional matters threaten our own personal/family stability, in matters of health, safety, making ends meet and so much more.
Now, more than we notice in relatively comfortable times, we need each other; we need people in our lives who share values of caring and accepting responsibility to be of support to one another. Coming together as community allows us not only to share important milestones; it also, in the setting of the Days of Awe, as well as weekly Shabbat, and all our holidays, moves us to reexamine values inherent in community that can reduce stress for any one of us…that we realize we are not alone…that someone understands and cares what any one of us is going through, unique to each family’s / person’s situation, yet sharing common concerns, needs, fears and overwhelm.
While, we cannot know how life will unfold in the coming year, whether conditions improve or worsen, coming together as community is more than comforting; it is an important strategic act, that we create, generate and maintain an infrastructure that assures no one of us, or our families are left alone.
At CBI we are fortunate to have each other. Much of the time it is a sense of home from a perspective of religious identification, If conditions remain fraught with fears from a variety of different if related fronts, then this community we share will become one of the most important resources we have to assure each other that no matter how problematic things get, we can be thankful we have each other and remain conscious to be good community members and seek ways to help us all to feel strengths and blessings that left to ourselves would be difficult to notice and access.
I look forward to our times together. May our journey through the Days of Awe tap into our 3000 year old tradition of values that enable us to transcend difficult times and change our lives for the better.
Join Beth Sholom in Napa to Set the Mood of the Days of Awe
Our friends at Beth Sholom in Napa have invited you to join them for the spiritual welcome to the Days of Awe, Sleechot…reflections on human frailties and changes we need to consider to prepare for a good and healthy 5772. Saturday, September 24 at 8:30 pm folks will gather for a social half hour followed at 9 pm by the Sleechot service and reflection led by Rabbi Stuart Kelman. The address is 1455 Elm Street. For more information you can contact Jonnie at CBS: 253-7305