As we prepare ourselves for the High Holy Day experience, we begin a process of reflection and introspection. We reflect on this past year: what we accomplished, what goals were met; how we may have missed the mark and perhaps hurt others. On Yom Kippur, we are to enter the synagogue having reviewed and prepared for the Day of Atonement.
On Yom Kippur, we strive for a fine balance of keva and kavanah. We come to our Jewish community, to the most attended service day of the entire year, and we participate with full hearts in reading the prayers and singing the songs. We observe keva. However, we must also take to heart the meaning of the prayers. On Yom Kippur in particular, this means not simply showing up for services (though for some, there is nothing simple about that act), but preparing ourselves for teshuva, for repentance.
So during the month of Elul, we must act in an intentional way. We must begin the process of reviewing this past year. We are taught with regard to teshuva that we must do two kinds of teshuva: we must ask forgiveness from other individuals whom we have wronged, and we must ask forgiveness from God. For some, the former is easier: we make a mental or physical list of people whom we have hurt, and we ask for forgiveness. For others, the latter is easier: we determine how we have erred in this past year, and we discuss it with our God.
This year, I received a similar outreach from a long lost friend as the month of Elul began, and whether or not he meant it as an intentional act of Elul, I took it as such. The opportunity for teshuva is great, and our preparation now will allow us to have even greater kavanah when Yom Kippur finally does arrive.
So let the sound of the shofar be heard;
And let our souls be awakened!
Rabbi Debbie Bravo
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