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 a recitation of 44 sins, as an essential part of the High Holy Day process of “tshuvah,” repentance, atonement and an effort to improve our lives.

However, during this month of Elul, let us be more positive.  Let us look at what we did right, and thank God for the ability to do good work in the world, with the prayer that we may recognize the good in ourselves and do more of these in the coming year.  In addition to “Al Cheyt” for our sins, let us also say:

“Modim anachnu lach”  Thank you God: For the good we have added to the world.  For the people we have helped.  For the peace we have made between people.  For the relationships we have repaired.  For the times we have stopped and noticed the beauty in the world.  For the times we have said I love you to those closest to us.  For the times we have lived up to our highest values.  For the times we have studied Torah and Jewish wisdom.  For the times we have made an effort to ensure the future of the Jewish people.  For offering thanks for the many blessings in our lives.  For coming together with our congregation to be a part of this sacred community.  For working for a just and compassionate society.  For finding the good in every person.  For all these blessings, Eternal our God, we offer our thanks to You.”

L’shanah tovah–Your RS clergy