Friday, August 9, 2013

4 Elul: Renewal

Create for me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - 

 The month of Elul is meant for preparing for the Jewish New Year.  We take this time to do Teshuvah (Repentance) and our slates are wiped clean.  We apologize to friends and to G-d for all the things we have done wrong over the past year, and our sins are forgiven.  We can let go of our guilt (but do we?) as long as we are making a sincere effort to improve ourselves. 

Jewish spirituality is filled with opportunities for renewal.  Jewish women are commanded to go to the Mikvah each month to purify themselves after their menstrual cycles.  Each month of the calendar year (Rosh Chodesh, literally Head of the Month) is a time to reflect on the past month.  Nightly, before bed we are encouraged to do Cheshbon HaNefesh (literally accounting of the spirit).  

I admit, I don't go to the Mikvah every month.  As a woman married to a non Jew I am not required to do so.  I feel like I miss out on this Mitzvah.  I have done it one time, and it was the most amazing experience.  The preparation, cleaning of the physical self, really helped me feel renewed spiritually.  

I feel the same way about Passover cleaning (I can hear the groaning now...).  I feel there is such a huge emphasis on cleaning out the external that I can't help but feel refreshed and renewed.  

I think this is the reason I have a hard time feeling renewed during the period leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  There isn't anything physical to be doing.  It's all evaluation, like you do with your employer once a year.  At the end of it, you simply move on, maybe with some new goals, or maybe just refocus on the older ones.  

Shabbat Shalom

This is my post based on writing prompts for Elul.  Please join me and link your page in the comments section.

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