I recently met up with a Muslim friend. Over coffee, she spoke about how much loves the intensive rituals and restrictions of the month of Ramadan. I've always imagined that it must be terrible to have to wake up each day for a month before the first light of dawn to eat, knowing that I wouldn't get to eat or drink again until sunset. My friend talked about how wonderful that hour of the day is--a completely quiet time to reconnect with her own sense of spirituality and rebuild her relationship with God.
As she talked, I found myself wondering what would it be like to set aside time daily for an entire month to renew my spiritual self. Where could I find an opportunity within my own Jewish year to engage in this practice?
And then, of course, I figured it out: Elul! Elul is an entire month of preparation for our holiest days. The rabbis have already designated this time as a month to reflect on our deeds over the past year and think about the spiritual work we need to do before Rosh Hashanah. They separated out the four letters of the month's name א-ל-ו-ל into the verse from the Song of Songs: אני לדודי ודודי לי "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."
And so I resolve to take time each day of this month to reflect on who I am, where I've come from, and where I'm going. I invite you to do the same. It is my hope that these Elul Reflections will assist you in walking this path to the Days of Awe with mindfulness and joy. May we all be inscribed for a sweet new year!
--Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky, Elul Reflections editor