Elul 5: Commit

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 16 August 2018 @ 12:34 am

Courtesy: Shutterstock

*commit
verb com·mit \ kə-ˈmit \

  1. : to obligate or pledge oneself

When we commit to an action, we are making a promise.
When we commit to teshuvah, the promise we make is a sacred one.

When we speak of the sacred promise between God and Abraham or God and the People Israel,
we use the word brit, which means covenant.

If we are made in the Divine Image,
should we not name the sacred commitment we make to ourselves
a covenant?

Would we feel a deeper sense of obligation
if we used sacred language?

In these sacred days,
we commit ourselves,
O Holy One,
to seeking a path
towards our true selves,
and upholding the covenant
we make with You
and with the holiest parts of ourselves.

* “Commit.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2018.

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#BlogElul 2018

#BlogElul is a monthlong exploration of themes pertaining to the High Holy Days. Created by R’ Phyllis Sommer, the #BlogElul #ElulGram project allows participants to delve into topics as a way of preparing for the season.

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Elul 4: Choose

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 15 August 2018 @ 12:01 am

Courtesy: Shutterstock

One of the most powerful moments in the Torah comes in Deuteronomy 30:9:

עִידֹ֨תִי בָכֶ֣ם הַיּוֹם֮ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ֒ הַחַיִּ֤ים וְהַמָּ֙וֶת֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ הַבְּרָכָ֖ה וְהַקְּלָלָ֑ה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ֙ בַּֽחַיִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן תִּחְיֶ֖ה אַתָּ֥ה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃

*I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life—if you and your offspring would live—

That’s quite a choice that God sets before us. Life and death, blessing and curse.

I imagine God looming large over our ancestors and offering these options. What must have been going through their minds? Was it a choice of free will? Or was God’s Presence coercive?

Choices are difficult to make under the very best of circumstances, and so many of us question our choices soon after we’ve made them. I had a voice teacher who taught me that a decision made in one particular moment might not be the right decision later. So we must make the best choice that we can, using all of the information that we have at that moment. Hindsight might provide additional information that would have yielded a different decision. And often we are able to redirect ourselves midcourse. But we shouldn’t castigate ourselves for the choice we made.

The High Holy Days offer us an annual chance to choose life. To correct our course. To revise prior decisions and make better ones.

If we are willing to choose…

*Hebrew text and translation courtesy of Sefaria.org.

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#BlogElul 2018

#BlogElul is a monthlong exploration of themes pertaining to the High Holy Days. Created by R’ Phyllis Sommer, the #BlogElul #ElulGram project allows participants to delve into topics as a way of preparing for the season.

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Elul 3: Prepare

August 14, 2018

Showing up to a Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur service without preparing makes for especially long days. There is a lot of liturgy. Pages and pages of it. And in many places, the services are passive experiences. Just sitting and listening to a lot of chanting and what sounds like mumbling. So why prepare? Preparation […]

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Elul 2: Seek

August 13, 2018

Rebbe Barukh’s grandson, Yechiel, came running into his study, in tears. “Yechiel, Yechiel, why are you crying,” asked his grandfather. His sobbing grandson explained,“I was playing hide and seek with my friend, but he stopped looking for me and left me alone.” Rebbe Barukh caressed Yechiel’s face, and with tears welling up in his eyes, […]

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Elul 1: Decide

August 12, 2018

I don’t know how it happened. I didn’t mean to neglect my blog. I never made a conscious decision to abandon it. That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t make a choice. By not making it a priority, I chose to find other ways to fill the time. In other words, not deciding is its […]

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