Friday, September 9, 2022

Resetting your Perspective

The month of Elul is upon us. This is the final month of the Jewish year. We wind down the year 5782 and look forward to a new year of 5783. Traditionally, in anticipation of Rosh Hashanah, the shofar is blown at the conclusion of the daily morning minyan. Many times this season triggers reactions that are not necessarily positive. From the attitude here, we go again from unusually long services to just not “feeling it,” Elul is frequently greeted with a yawn. So what would be an appropriate perspective to internalize as Elul is here and we are on the cusp of yet another New Year?  Our Rabbis have taught that the acronym of Elul is short for “Ani L’Dodi V’dodi Li,” translated as “I am for my Beloved, and my Beloved is for me”. The source for this is a passage from Song of Songs written by the wise King Solomon. He describes the passionate relationship between a man and woman in love and their intense feelings for one another. The traditional interpretation of this text refers metaphorically to the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. This is foundational in our understanding of our relationship with G-d and our commitment to Torah, Mitzvahs, and Tradition. After all, why should any reasonable individual, especially one with Western sensitivities, restrict oneself to what they can eat, when they can drive, and who they can marry? Our generation has embraced the mantra of Pro-Choice in every area of life. Shouldn’t personal autonomy be more significant? Why should I base my life upon a document written by some G-d that feels very remote and disconnected from me? King Solomon addresses this by saying, “ I am for my Beloved, and my Beloved is for me.” G-d created us and gave us a special mission in life because He cares and loves for us. The commandments in the Torah are just details when we internalize this notion that we are deeply connected to a loving G-d who wants a relationship with us. The wise person understands that the mitzvos in the Torah are a mitzvos are an opportunity for connection and not just mere restrictions. Throughout the year, we might not have felt incredibly inspired to be as observant as we could or, in general, feel that closeness to the Almighty. Elul is an opportunity to pause and reflect on this fundamental Jewish idea that we have a loving G-d that wants a meaningful relationship. Throughout Elul, when we hear the sound of the shofar, it is a reminder to reassess where we are moving towards self-improvement.  Life is full of opportunities that are often squandered because we lack appreciation for the moment. Elul is a precious gift that should be utilized before it slips away. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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