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A new month begins

Tonight at sundown begins Rosh Chodesh Elul.  This is the last month of 5774. Traditionally, the beginning of this month signals our turn toward the High Holy Days and the process of Repentance.  During this month we are to take an accounting-of our sins and transgressions during the last year.  How honest were we?  Did we cheat on our taxes or our business partners?  Did we overindulge in the amounts of food we eat or alcohol we drink? Do we have a problem with prescription or otherwise? Were we harsh to someone who didn’t deserve it? Did we engage in risky sexual behaviors? Did we treat our employees unfairly? Did we “forget” to give to charity?  Were we gossips? Did we lash out at someone? Did we use foul language?  Did we plot or execute revenge against someone?  Did we distance ourselves from God?

Jewish tradition teaches us that we all cross the line at some time. No one is perfect. But this season of Repentance and the High Holy Days come each year to help us re-set our spiritual selves.  The wisdom of our tradition is that we all have a chance to reflect, to change, and to grow.  I think this is one of things I appreciate most about Judaism.  It recognizes the human impulse to change and helps us capture the change for the better!

So my friends. Give thanks for the new month of Elul and for the chance to renew yourself, to heal from the past, to make amends with human beings and yes, with God who is waiting to embrace the new you!  

The month of Elul, the rabbis teach is an abbreviation for the Hebrew phrase, Ani l’dodi v’dodi li, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.  (Aleph, Lamed, Vav, Lamed – Elul). This is a phrase of the Song of Songs in the Jewish Bible, Tanach.  It is indicative of the love, according to the Sages, between God and individual person.  Sin takes us away from God-it puts distance between God and the individual. Elul comes with the promise of renewing our relationship with the Eternal.  That is why this is a month of healing, love and promise.

Chodesh Tov-May it be a good month