Thursday, 28 August 2014

On Teshuvah and Love

Elul is here – Rosh Hashanah cannot be far behind.


With the New Moon of Tuesday night we entered the Hebrew month of Elul.

With the next New Moon we will enter a New Year.

May it come to us, and all, for good and in peace.


We are counting down to Rosh Hashanah.

The evening of the first day is 24th September. This is month when we begin to assess the work of the coming days. Perhaps we could all benefit from starting with this idea.


In a process known as Notarikon, the Rabbis play with the Hebrew word, Elul – Aleph Lamed Vav Lamed, taking the letters of the word and matching them up against a verse from the Song of Songs – Ani LeDodi V’Dodi Li – I am my beloved and my beloved is mine. The point is this – Teshuvah is built from a foundation of love and reciprocrity. True Teshuvah can only happen gracefully and in relationship with our Creator and our fellow human beings.


A graceful relationship with our Creator involves accepting we are created in God’s image. We are invested with a spirit and – should we be so fortunate – the possibility to breathe, see, smell, think, and change. How extraordinary, how beyond any machine-created possibility! And if our relationship with our Creator has gone a little rusty, if we have taken our creation, or our inheritance as Jews too much for granted, the possibility for renewal and transformation exists. The Rabbis teach that when sacrifices were offered in the Temple the flame from the altar would rise and it would meet a flame descending from the heavens. We are met in commitment to live next year differently from the year past.


A graceful relationship with our fellow human beings involves opening our heart to the notion that we are not perfect. It’s always easy to ascribe blame or see fault in others. But in this month of Elul we should treat others with the sort of grace we usually reserve for considering our own failures, and put in our own mouths – and hearts – the graceful words we would wish to hear from others ‘sorry,’ ‘no, it was my fault,’ ‘let me do that.’


By treating the world and its inhabitants more gracefully, more lovingly we increase the amount of decency in this poor battered world. We might even find more grace and love coming our way in return.


Early wishes for a sweet and healthy year to all,


Shabbat shalom,


Rabbi Jeremy


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