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Reb Lisa's Message


Chodesh Tov! Rosh Chodesh Elul begins tomorrow! That means several things. First, we are heading into a new month - the Hebrew month of Elul. Second, it means that Rosh Hashanah is just one month away, which will bring the new Jewish year 5784. Third, Elul initiates the time of year where we return to ourselves, take stock of the previous year, and reflect on our actions. This process is called Teshuvah and means both return and repentance. Embarking on a journey of teshuvah allows us to enter the new year unencumbered by the weight and baggage of “what was.”

Maimonides, 12th century Rabbi and philosopher beckons us:

“Wake up, you sleepers from your sleep,

you slumberers from your slumber.

Search your deeds and return to Me in teshuvah!”

With these words Maimonides suggests that over the course of the past year we have likely succumbed to autopilot mode, where parts of ourselves have fallen asleep. Yet now is the time to wake up and enliven ourselves to who we actually are, and are becoming.

We sound the shofar to begin the waking up process. The ram’s horn serves as an ancient alarm clock, signaling that we have come around again to this season. Each day of Elul we listen to the mysterious call of the shofar, calling us back to ourselves, and the Source of all life. The curve of the shofar itself hints at this movement of return.

What a blessing to have Teshuvah, a process of return woven into the fabric of our calendar. This mechanism of return gives us the time and opportunity to look back over the terrain of the last year and to make whatever course corrections are necessary to recalibrate.

It’s like they say with aviation - in flying a plane, even if you are only one degree off course, continuing in that direction, unchecked, will ultimately land you in an unintended destination.

I encourage you to give yourself the gift of time this month of Elul. Consider how you might benefit from carving out a even a little bit of dedicated space to reflect, repair, return. To inspire your Elul practice, I offer a few resources.

  • Elul Tools: Building a Strong Foundation for the Days of Awe. My colleague and long time chevruta (study) partner Moshe King and I, created this daily guidebook for the month of Elul. Each day in the guidebook offers multiple ways to engage in soulful work to prepare for the High Holy days. Both of us believe deeply in the wisdom of the Jewish calendar as a source of transformation and growth and are inspired by Elul as a month long preparation for the new Jewish year. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, refer to the eblast for more details, or contact me directly for more information.

  • Daily Shofar Blowing: Follow CBI’s Facebook live event each morning of Elul (exluding Shabbat). We’ll go live at approximately 9:30 am - 10 am PT everyday. You’ll hear the shofar, some inspiring words for reflection, and a blessing for the day. If you are not already friends with CBI on Facebook, you can do that here:

  • Elul Unbound: Check out a fantastic resource from our friends at Judaism Unbound. They offer daily content for the month of Elul. You can access their website HERE.

  • Get an Elul Buddy: Consider finding a partner to share the richness of this month. Together you can learn, reflect, share, and encourage each other to stay on track. If you would like some guidance in finding a good match for an Elul buddy, let me know.

A challenge: If we go along as is, without engaging in any Elul practice, nothing in our lives will change. Okay. That’s fine. Nothing to lose. But consider that engaging in some kind of Elul practice, no matter how small or simple, will by definition bring about change. Even the smallest change has the power to make a profound difference. So much to gain!

May we embrace the month of Elul with open hearts and open minds. May we return to the land of our souls and allow ourselves to become more fully who we are. So much awaits us!

Chodesh Tov!

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