September 5, 2014
Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, September 5, 2014.
For the last ten days, we have been marking the summer month of Elul, the twelfth month of the Jewish ritual year the last month before Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, and the first month of the ritual year. So this Shabbat is one of the four Shabbatot during the month of Elul. The transition between the Ninth of Av until the Jewish New Year is one of changing moods and themes. The first 9 days of Av, the eleventh month of the ritual year are days of mourning, marking the siege and destruction of the city of Jerusalem – both the destruction in 586 B.C.E. by the Babylonians, and in 70 C.E. by the Romans. The weeks following are weeks of consolation and hope... the prophetic readings on Shabbat following the Torah reading are all about hope and rebirth.
The whole month of Elul, however, is about introspection and considering our actions throughout the previous year. What did we do right? What did we do wrong? We think about our mistakes and about how we make up for our mistakes. In traditional communities, the Shofar (ram’s horn) is sounded every morning. And in Sephardic communities there are special “Slichot (Forgiveness)” services every morning before dawn. Ashkenazim begin these special prayers asking for forgiveness for the wrongs we’ve committed later on in the month.
Some things to think about on this, Shabbat during Elul:
- What have I done this year that I’m proud of?
- What have I done that I regret?