Elul Reflections: Find Your Beat

We can approach this season, this work of Cheshbon HaNefesh, the accounting of our souls, with a strategy. Find something to repeat. What is the power of repetition? Whether it is a phrase or a melody, when we repeat words or notes over and over again, we enable discovery. And...

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Elul Reflections: Taking Stock of What Hurts–and Why

Amichai Lau-Lavie writes: The toothache started about two days ago, gentle at first. By Saturday night, though, it had upgraded from nagging ache to actual pain. With it came the harsh reality check that I haven’t been to a dentist in at least a year….So, on Saturday night, I did...

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Elul Reflections: Accounting of Our Soul

One of the ways we prepare in Elul is by “cheshbon ha-nefesh,” taking an accounting of our soul.  Anyone with an IRA or any kind of investment portfolio will take an accounting of our assets as often as possible, analyzing each item, and making changes when necessary.  We should do...

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Elul Reflections: Brokenhearted

Why does Torah teach: you shall put the words of Torah on your heart?  Why not, in your heart?  Because, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz teaches: each of us, at some time, will be heartbroken.  And when our heart breaks, the words of Torah, resting there, will slip into the crack.  Into...

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Elul Reflections: Out from Under the Burden

Too often, the hard work of the High Holy Days gives us an opportunity to beat ourselves up and tear ourselves down, to dwell only on our sins.  We recite the confessional prayer of “Al Cheyt…”  “For the sins we have sinned against You O God…”  In this prayer is...

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Elul Reflections: Gates to Our Soul

There’s always a spiritual meaning!  “Appoint yourselves judges and officers in your gates” teaches the Torah in last week’s Shoftim.  Typically understood as the establishment of a judicial system, Hasidic thinkers such as the Sefat Emet teach us to picture these gates, not as gates to a city, but as...

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Elul Reflections: It’s Not My Fault But I Am Responsible

Last night, in a doc called “Weed,” CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, shared a compassionate and compelling apology.   Gupta explained that he had long reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the US and previously thought it was unimpressive, but has now reversed his position: “I now apologize,” said Gupta....

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Elul Reflections: The Power of Our Words

Do our words really matter? In his sermon Friday evening, Rabbi Bill Kuhn explored how every time we speak to another, we have the opportunity to heal or to hurt, to lift up or to tear down.  When we speak ill of someone, the words spread around like the feathers...

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Elul Reflections: God Knows My Guilty Look

  A sage is a passenger on a horse and wagon.  As they pass a farm, the driver sees some hay.  He stops his horse, looks around carefully to make sure no one is watching, runs out, and grabs a bundle of hay.

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Elul Reflections: All the Days of My Life

On this first Shabbat of Elul, we ask: What does your day look like, what does today look like, when you are living in the tent of the Eternal?  Daily recitation of the words of Psalm 27 inspire us throughout Elul, and we sing verse 4  regularly during Shabbat services...

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