Elul Reflections: 20 Elul 5777

There is a prayer in Mishkan HaNefesh, the New American Machzor, which has chosen to go back to the original text.  It occurs in the Erev Rosh Hashanah service and is connected to the Kedusha prayer.  The original refers to the messiah, as the spark of David, God's servant, the son of Ishai, your anointed one.  At first reading, it speaks to a human messiah figure.  However, I think it challenges us, like with Havdallah, to not see the messiah, as a human being, but to continue to focus on the idea of a messianic era. A time when there will be peace on earth.  This message is so very important as we head into the High Holy Days.  A time, where we are to take an accounting of our souls, a cheshbon hanefesh.  Have we lived the year, in a way that would bring about the messianic era?  Or, have we erred?  What could have done better?  During the month of Elul, we could use this as our intention.  As we have an entire month of 'forced' reflection... we also have the opportunity to begin to see our actions with beginning to repair the world.  We all know too well the Mishnaic saying (Pirkei Avot 2:21) that while it is not our obligation to complete a task, we may not desist from it.

--Rabbi Kim Ettlinger

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