Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

heigh ho, heigh ho

Posted by chutzpaleh on September 2, 2007

… it’s off to spiritual work we go.

Right now we are in the Hebrew month of Elul.  This time-marker (marked by shofar blowing) is an introductory period for the High Holidays which offers us the opportunity to do a bunch of spiritual work, to take stock of who we are right now, and how we are fitting into “the plan” (our plan for humankind, our plan for ourselves, dare I even say “G-d’s plan”), and to start to chug along, spiritually, down a different path. We can change our ways and we can change our fates.

I don’t know about you guys, but after years in seminary and being actively engaged with Jewish community building, my email inbox, as well as my RSS feeder, is just bursting with opportunities to learn, to grow, to change. But… before I give those over, I want to remind everyone that this isn’t necessarily about your mind.  There’s more to you than your intellect!

There’s a beautiful tradition of taking on a hachlata (commitment) for different holidays/birthdays, etc – that hachlata can be “I’m going to call my mom every week before Shabbat,” or “I’m not going to do impressions of my housemate,” or “I’m going to do one thing at a time.” Hachlatas have to come from your kishkas (your gut)- not just “I think this will be good for me” but “I’m making a commitment of personal integrity to change in this way.” In my experience of taking on hachlatas, I’ve learned that it’s so important to tell other people what you’re trying to do. So me personally – it’s a month before my Hebrew birthday, and I’m taking upon myself to write in a journal every night about what I did right as far as personal attributes, and where I could have done better. I encourage you to try out your own hachlata for size – and start small! Small changes in angle can change final trajectory a LOT!

With no further ado, resources for Elul and spiritual growth:

Jewels of Elul– this is an online resource in which there will be a new “jewel” posted everyday, from a wide variety of sources (Deepak Chopra, Dalai Lama, Matisyahu, frum writers)

Stepping Stones in Repentance – a 30 day program based on the teachings of the Ohr Yisrael, R. Yisrael Salanter.

My teacher, Rn. Tzipora Heller, has an article up on the Aish website, Three Steps to Genuine Change. As usual, Aish and Chabad both feature lots of resource.

On the other side of the spectrum, check out Ritual Well for creating your own meaningful Elul rituals.

What else do you recommend? Where are you holding?

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