Truly Feeling Alive
We are now well into our journey of forgiveness and teshuvah during the month of Elul.
This past Thursday night was Rosh Chodesh Elul, the new moon of the last month of the year. This means that we are now less than one month away from Rosh Hashanah, which falls on the new moon of the next month, the month of Tishrei. This also means that our journey of forgiveness and teshuvah, often translated as repentance, has begun.
Because we live in America, a culture dominated by Christianity, the word repentance brings with it all of the associations that are not at the essence of what teshuvah is.
Teshuvah means to return, to turn and return to the holiest and most G-dly part of ourselves. This is work that we do every day, of course, but these days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur are said to be the time that the Creator is deciding our fate for the year. If we do the work of returning, praying, and tzedakah, we can change how our fate plays out in the year ahead. “Who shall live and who shall die.” And this statement has truth to it: we don’t know who will live this year and who will die. G-d willing, we will live to 120, but these days are a reminder to us that our time on earth is limited and the length of our days unknown, so let’s do the work of healing and returning now before it’s too late.
Perhaps this is not just about the judgment of who will physically live or die because we know that righteous people can die and wicked people can prosper, but I like to think of it as a reminder that this is talking about who will live in a way where they really feel alive and who will feel so tormented and weighed down by grudges and guilt and bad habits that they feel like they are dead even though they are physically alive.
Join us this Shabbat as we continue to take our spiritual walk through the month of Elul.