Elul Reflections: Reflection 7

During the first lockdown I wrote a “to do list.” It went like this:

  1. Clean house, including behind the couch and crumbs in crevices;
  2. Bake bread;
  3. Make healthy, home-cooked meals for family every night while wearing fashionable apron, heels and make-up, possibly recording all and putting on tiktok;
  4. Learn Latin, so will be whizz at crosswords;
  5. Do crosswords;
  6. Learn to play guitar and become bigger than Wiggles (only Jewish);
  7. Exercise: cardio for heart and yoga for spirit (make sure to master placing foot behind ear);
  8. Meditate to calm mind and give razor sharp focus;
  9. Enjoy witty conversation with family at all times;
  10. Become youtube sensation and increase Instagram followers and be in constant contact with friends to see if everyone ok.

Needless to say, I did not even get past point 1. So this recent lockdown, I took out my list, determined to plough my way through but just reading it left me feeling exhausted, guilty and depleted.

In the Torah we read: Ve’ahavta lere’eacha kamocha, “you shall love your neighbour as yourself” and I think we are pretty good at loving our neighbours. We are kind, compassionate, we care and reach out. But too often we are not similarly kind to ourselves. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than anyone else, we expect so much and too often, we are not kind and we don’t reach out in love, to ourselves.

So this Elul, I invite us all to remember to be kind to ourselves. Rip up the “to do lists” and recognise that getting through every single day at the moment is an achievement to be celebrated. We need to show ourselves kindness and compassion, to remember that we are enough just as we are, and as one of my bar mitzvah students said to me last week: “you got this!”

I wish for everyone a time ahead of peace, love and kindness to ourselves.

-- Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio

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