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Reb Lisa's Message


In Jewish time, we are now fully in the month of Elul. This final month of the year holds significant spiritual importance as a period of introspection, repentance, and preparation leading up to the High Holy Days. Elul is also considered a time of heightened divine presence. The Hasidic teachings of the B’nai Yissachar describe Elul as a mikveh in time. As we enter into this potent month of reflection and possibility, immersing in this mikveh allows us to dissolve the ego and return to a sense of unity. Join me for a mystical dip into these potent waters of Elul as we briefly explore the B’nai Yissachar’s esoteric teaching.

The 40 day process of Teshuvah--from the first day of Elul through Yom Kippur is a mystical possibility and we reach it through “divine calculation.”

Following the B’nai Yissachar’s steps, which reads like a recipe, he arrives at a mathematical truth: 960 = 960 = 960.

What is the significance of 960 you ask? Some of this you’ll have to take at face value, or if you’re really interested, let’s talk and I’ll explain further.!

The B’nai Yissachar makes numerical connections between mikveh, time, and dissolution of the ego all hinging on the number 960.

Mikveh: amount of lugin (living water inside) = 960

Time: number of hours during the period of Teshuvah = 960

Dissolution of ego: 16 elements within the body X 60 (1 part in 60 to nullify, like the milk in the soup–law of kashrut)

The end result is an equation reflecting a profound Spiritual Truth that reads something like this:

Teshuvah is a Mikveh, in Time, where self ultimately dissolves and is re-asorbed back into the infinite source of Divinity(YHVH).

The sacred math is intriguing, and reveals something incredibly beautiful.

We reach a similar place with the Elul acronym:

אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי

Ani l’dodi, v’dodi li.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

This phrase from Shir HaShirim, is a declaration of a fully immersive unification through sacred love--Between us and God. Deep intimacy brings unification, something of the I/Thou relationship Martin Buber describes. Deep intimacy too, is like a mikveh, an immersion where self dissolves in the waters of other, unification. This kind of connection, where one feels truly seen and truly sees the other, also creates a mikveh in time.

Deep love has the power to purify and heal in the same way the mikveh does. This is the same transformation that is possible during the 40 days of Teshuvah. A new self emerges. Or perhaps our best, most authentic self emerges.

Our tradition teaches that during Elul and the Yamim Noraim (a 40 day period), the King is in the Field. Said slightly differently, the Majestic mystery that fuels the universe, and feels unknowable, unapproachable, is suddenly within reach. The transcendent, becomes imminent. So much so that God’s presence is as close as our own backyard. We can feel it, touch it, surround ourselves with it. As with a lover, we immerse ourselves in these waters, and ultimately emerge more of who we are.

The 40 Days of Teshuvah is about remembering, returning to the Truth of who we are, and the Truth of what G-d is. This is different for everyone and has so many permutations. Ultimately, we temporarily dissolve into the Cosmic Echad (oneness) and then re-emerge in our glorious specificity. The aspiration is that maybe this year we will actually remember the umbilical connection from which we are never really separate. Or maybe we can think of it like a raindrop. While we may be “perceptually” separated from the whole, temporarily, there is always a trickling back to the place that holds it all. Makom. Universal Mikveh.

Journey of Elul.

Immerse in the mikveh of time.

Teshuvah. Come home.

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