For those of you who may be coming late to this party (this blog and my story), you may not know that I myself am coming late to this party. My first, and so far only, trip to Israel was in 2014. It was remarkable, and transformed me on multiple levels, and made me want to fully delve into my Judaism. Part of the result of that trip was studying with multiple Rabbis and just getting more involved in the community and with a variety of Shuls. I was, and am, a sponge, and want to learn as much as I can.
So some of what I write about, which may be something you have long known, is brand new for me. I wish I had been exposed to this earlier, but it is what it is, we are where we are, and as long as we are on the path and holding on to that ladder, things are good.
As a twice a year Jew, we would go to services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Yes, we would celebrate Chanukah and Passover, but I knew very little. And I had no idea the Shofar was sounded at other times of the year. Cut to this past weekend, and a morning Minyan at Chabad. Rabbi Avi’s message resonated so deeply, and the blasting of the Shofar, literally woke my soul. As we move into a holy period, I am faced with life changing decisions. We talked about how we prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and how we MUST BE inspired.
Inspiration is a big thing for me… and learning that it’s as simple as focusing on what you truly want, and then connecting to and putting it fully in Hashem’s hands is powerful. Simple is the wrong word. None of this is simple. And you don’t release it all… or give up any efforts… In fact, you need to do everything you can that is within your power to achieve your goals. And then the connection to Hashem, that full and total connection, will deliver what is SUPPOSED to be delivered.
I say supposed to be, because as Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld says, there are three answers to every prayer: Yes, Not Yet, I Have Something Better In Mind… What you pray for is not what you might actually get. What you think you need might not be right. But put your faith in Hashem and He will guide you and support you.
The Shofar is a guide. It is a call… a literal call. It’s blast strikes chords in the soul. It’s notes are musical and primal, they are to lead us and guide us. So this past weekend was the start. Tonight I get Shlomo time with “The Shofar Blues – Turning Regret Into Purpose.” And this morning I got an email from Rabbi Aryeh Markman, talking about how to prepare for Rosh Hashanah. This concept is a new one for me… and one I intend to fully embrace. It’s also powerful to have these lesson one after the other. But as Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky taught me: “There are no coincidences, it’s G-ds way of remaining anonymous.” I’ll share some of Aryeh’s suggestions here… and wish us all a solid preparation for this month of Elul. May we find forgiveness, may we return to ourselves, and may we fully live and celebrate life with inspiration and connection.
Aryeh sent 10 things to do. I distilled what he wrote, picked out the ones that really resonated with me, and added my own thoughts to the mix:
Spiritual Accounting – Every day take the time to review the year and know what is working and what is not. Figure out what you need to improve on…
Study – We should always be learning and moving forward, but learning how to prepare for this Holy period will make it much more meaningful and worthwhile. Visit Aish.com and Chabad.org and read a good book on character development… self enlightenment/improvement…
Forgive – Forgive yourself and stop beating yourself up. Love yourself unconditionally, but improve on what you can. Ask family or friends what you should be working on. And ask for forgiveness for those who you have wronged… and give forgiveness to someone who wronged you. We do this nightly we the Bedtime Shema, so that could be a could time to really put your thoughts on this.
Set Goals – Make a list of goals for yourself… and with your family… and pray for them… and work towards them.
Kindess Plus – Do an extra act of kindness and strive to ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING!So while I used to just go into these Holy Days “as is,” I now know what to do to make them much more thorough, productive and meaningful. I need to prepare… and I need to get ready. So here’s to peace, love, preparation and inspiration, and a deeper connection with Hashem and each other. Let us all return to the true and connected souls we all are. People get ready, the Holy Days are a comin’.