The High Holidays are fast approaching. The month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish Year, is a time for introspection and forgiveness. Elul is the Hebrew name for the month leading up to the new Jewish year which will end this year on September 16th at sundown.
The Hebrew letters for “Elul”: Alef, lamed vav & lamed, are read as an acronym for a line from the book "A Song of Songs" found in the bible, which means: “I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine.”
Similarly, during the month of Elul, we should turn toward one another in loving relationship. The message of Elul is that not only should we be willing to be received in love and caring, but we should also be able to receive love with graciousness and appreciation. The word teshuvah means in Hebrew, literally, to return, which is central to the month of תשרי and to the High Holidays.
On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah it is tradition to walk to a river or spring and recite special prayers called penitential prayers. The Tashlich prayer comes from the Book of Micha (7:18-20) in the Tanach (bible). After you say the prayers, you throw the bread crumbs into the water. Some people keep a piece of the Afikoman from Passover for this purpose, which is a nice way of linking the holidays together. Come join me at the community Tashlich on Monday September 17th at 5 pm. Tossing the bread-crumbs on the water is symbolic of casting away our sins and starting a new year with a clean slate.
In ancient times the shofar was sounded to announce a new month. The horn of a ram is most often used for making a shofar, because it is much like the story of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, an event which, according to tradition, is believe to have happened on Rosh Hashanah.
In our classes, while dipping the apples in honey, we learn about the lunar calendar verses the solar calendar and learn a special Hebrew calendar song. We ended each lesson this week with the blowing of the shofar, the Alphabet song, Rosh ha’ Shana songs and blessings for a healthy peaceful and meaningful year.
I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a sweet, healthy, productive and growth-oriented new year! I am looking forward to starting the new school year with good spirits and renewed energy.
So Shanah Tovah, and let’s begin!