The Hebrew calendar is like no other calendar that exists in the world today. It does not progress from past to future in a linear fashion as does the Western calendar. It is cyclical, recalling events from history and drawing their energy upwards, says Rabbi Simon Jacobson in his book 60 Days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays.
We are in the midst of Elul and approaching Tishrei, the two most powerful months on the Hebrew calendar. Elul, the current Hebrew month, precedes the High Holidays, is a month of spiritual preparation.
Tishrei, the holiest month of the year, contains the monumental holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, as well as the lesser-known holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.
These two months embody the energy of renewal after destruction, rebirth after loss, the energy of love and forgiveness, of empowerment and joy, says Rabbi Jacobson. Elul and Tishrei capture the story of life itself. They certainly capture the story of my own life.
Each night as I curl up in the darkness with my son as goes to bed, I say the Shema prayer with him and marvel at how we end up back in the same place each night, doing the same things despite a hectic day.
Here we are again, I think to myself. Time seems to slip away as I watch him grow, and I’m reminded of that each night as I send him off to sleep after the completion of yet another day. Did we do something today that matters? Am I on a path of growth as a mother and and Jewish woman?
While it’s nice to have routines, it’s easy to get caught up with life and forget to take stock of our mission here and to appreciate the little moments.
The Hebrew month of Elul, the last month of the Hebrew year, is considered the month of self-reflection and accounting in preparation for the New Year and the High Holidays. It is never too late, destiny can be changed with prayer, and forgiveness is always possible.
Change breeds change. If you change an attitude, it will ignite other changes in your life.
Now is the time. Elul is a month when the doors are open, so to speak.
Choose the most important things you want to change -- maybe it’s a relationship, a psychological pattern, your job, your home or your parenting style. Do you want to try to be more present, to live in the moment and to have more gratitude?
Write down what you want, set your intentions, and ask G-d for help.
Unprecedented doors are open to us now, opportunities that do not come very often, Rabbi Jacobson says.
Now is the time.
I would love to hear about your journey of self-reflection and growth during the High Holidays and any time of year. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.