A Whole-Hearted Elul: Shabbat Message by Rabbi Jessica Spitalnic Mates & Rabbi Elana Rabishaw

Justice (tzedek), justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that G-d is giving you (Deuteronomy 16:20)

You must be wholehearted with Adonai your G-d. (Deuteronomy 18:13)

How many miles have you put on your car in the last 12 months? Are you the type of person that pays close attention to this, constantly figuring out your miles per gallon or can you not even remember the last time you looked at your odometer?

Today is the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul and it’s time to check our mileage for the year that has just passed and reflect on the miles in the Jewish year ahead.

And Elul, if we engage, can be a powerful journey that can allow us to rise above the routine, and make the new year meaningful and beautiful.

Understood as a time of reflection and deep thinking for this month before the High Holy Days, we want to help you make the most out of your Elul.

The key to this month of Elul is to focus on our personal prayer in order to ready us for the communal worship of the Days of Awe.

And so all during this Hebrew month of Elul before the High Holidays, we will share inspirational messages, memes and music that will highlight ways Elul can be used as a pathway to learning from 5783 and forging into the new Jewish year 5784.

Why bother checking these out?

Because they are intended to inspire devotion and concentration in our ways this month. By focusing on thinking about the meaning of our prayers, Elul hopes to lead us to the reflexive nature of prayer – a self-reflective experience of looking deep inside to find the ability to grow our appreciation of God and in doing that, finding a greater appreciation of our ability to do better in the year ahead.

Above are two quotes from this Torah week’s Torah portion Shoftim, the portion that greets us as we enter Elul. The first quote asks that we pursue justice ferociously. That involves action and caring and being vigilant about what is injustice in the world. And then working to repair it, better it, and bring the world closer to shalom…peace.

And the second quote, about wholeheartedness involves inner devotion. Figuring out how to fully and completely live life in a way where you pursue a deep and whole connection with God and bring yourself closer to peace.

Here’s the gift Elul gives us.

This Elul tradition of regular prayer is imbued with faith and hope. We will often be busy on the outside living life. Elul asks us to be busy on the inside, giving as much attention to our internal as what we are doing externally.

Our hope is that this month of Elul we inspire you to reflect on that wholehearted relationship with God and culminate it in the gorgeous Selichot experience we have planned this year.

Selichot on Saturday, September 9th with Guest Cantor Chava Mirel will help us achieve A Whole Hearted Elul with the traditional Selichot evening service that Jews around the world engage in before the High Holy Days begin.

So fasten your seatbelt because a great ride is in store for us this Elul!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jessica Mates  and Rabbi Elana Rabishaw


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