It’s Elul: Time to Think

elulAs we move through the month of Elul, we’re given the opportunity to reflect and prepare for the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is a time of contemplation.

This process can be difficult for many of us. We run from place to place, from errand to errand, our lives seemingly controlled by devices.  Taking the time to take stock, to slow down, to look inside ourselves seems nearly impossible.

Fortunately, many fine thinkers have provided avenues to help us with this process.

From David’s psalm 27,  which is recited every morning and evening through Simhat Torah we hear the plea for God’s help. David wrote this in the face of battle. We sometimes forget that the sweet singer of Israel was a true warrior king. (Read The Secret Chord by novelist Geraldine Brooks)

David faced danger every time he went out to face the enemy.  He wanted and needed God’s help just as we want and need God’s help to get us through.  David pleads with God and in the end the psalmist concludes that God will be there for him.

We too need assurance and the spiritual work of Elul and the following weeks of Tishri help us reach that state.

Modern thinkers may sound more prosaic but their goal is like David’s – to help us find security and calm. This poetic personal adaptation of the psalm by Rabbi Patti Haskell may help to get you started.

elul1Poem for Elul: Psalm 27
Good morning, God, happy Elul.
This day, one thing do I ask of you, God,
One thing do I seek:
To dwell in your house
All the days of my life.

… and while I dwell with you
Perhaps a few more things I might request:
Good health is at the top of my list—
For me, my family, my loved ones,
While we’re at it how about everyone, everywhere.

And perhaps food:
A healthy nosh for all who are hungry.
Quench all hunger and thirst with your love.
We do hunger for more than food and drink, so
Please quench other needs as well.

Okay, how ‘bout safety.
Safety from earthquakes, hurricanes,
Safety from one another.
Safety from all that frightens us
Safety to rest in your care.

And laughter.
Please give us much fun, silliness
to giggle at, many many smiles.
Smiles as we watch children investigate their worlds,
Smiles as we explore the lives of our elders.
God, let me behold your graciousness
Today… each day of Elul… each day
Of this year, and next, and then the next,
While I visit your temple
And immerse in your love.

To further assist you in that process look at the following books available in the  library:

Bookman, The Busy Soul: ten minute spiritual workouts drawn from Jewish tradition.

Cardin, The Tapestry of Jewish Time: a spiritual guide to holidays and life-cycle events.

Goldman, Being Jewish: the spiritual and cultural practice of Judaism today.

Kushner , God was in this Place and I did not Know: finding self, spirituality and ultimate meaning.

Kushner, The Way into Jewish Mystical Tradition.

Lew, This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared.

Ochs, Jewish Spiritual Guidance: finding our way to God.

Robbins, Opening Your Heart with Psalm 27: a spiritual practice for the Jewish new year.

Roth, Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life: Awakening your heart, connecting with God.

Strassfeld, A Book of Life: embracing Judaism as a spiritual practice.


Image: “Decompte_Jour_RH” by otir_im is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 


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Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg, a professional librarian, is a long-time congregant and serves as volunteer librarian for Shomrei's Lampert Library. The library, one of the best-kept secrets at Shomrei is used by the Rabbi, congregants, students and teachers of the JLC (Hebrew School) and Preschool. It's a tremendous resource completely supported by your donations and gifts. Aileen also heads the Shomrei Caterers, the in-house food preparation group. Can there be any better combination…good food and good books!
Aileen Grossberg

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