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Elul Daily Reflections - 2021/5782

29 days of reflection  

Rabbi Irving Greenberg, author of one of the classic guides to the holidays, The Jewish Way, explains that Elul is a time for ‘accounting for the soul,’ or cheshbon hanefesh (a reckoning with one’s self).  In The Jewish Way, Greenberg writes, “Just as the month before the summer is the time when Americans go on crash diets, fearing how their bodies will look on the beach, so Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, became the time when Jews went on crash spiritual regimens, fearing how their souls would look when they stood naked before God.”

Take a few moments every day during the month of Elul to reflect on the daily trait.  By engaging in this sustained period of reflection, you will be better prepared to experience the transformative potential of the High Holy Days.


Day 1: Awe / Yira

'Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement… Get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.'

-- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Personal Reflection

Have you ever recited Modeh Ani or had a practice of reciting it? Today might be a good day to explore the beautiful concept behind this practice and try it out.


Day 2: Compassion / Rachamim

'If we do not help a person in trouble, it is as if we caused the trouble.'

-- Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Personal Reflection

Did you intend to do something for someone else but ‘just didn’t have the time?’ Be inspired by reading Be a Mensch: Unleash Your Power to Be Kind and Help Others by Elisa Udaskin. Then take small steps to unleash your inner mensch.

Day 3: Empathy / Empatiya

'First become a blessing to yourself so that you may be a blessing to others.'


-- Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, 19th century Rabbi

Personal Reflection

Take the time to “be present at the moment.” Does that change the quality of your interactions? What does it mean to really listen, and not jump in with advice?


Day 4: Leadership / Manhigut

'Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.'

-- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Personal Reflection

Think of other women who are your role models as leaders in non-stereotypical roles. Now think about your mother, and the kind of role model she is/was or could have been.

'I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome.'

-- Golda Meir, Israel’s 4th Prime Minister

Day 5: Creativity / Y’tziyratiy

'Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.'


-- Martha Graham, Dancer and Choreographer 

Co-Founder of the Israeli Batsheva Dance Company 

with Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild


Personal Reflection

Think of creativity broadly, not just as an artistic milieu. Think about G-d and his creativity in creating the universe. What can you do to experience/appreciate the creativity around you? How can you bring creativity into your daily actions?


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Mon, August 15 2022 18 Av 5782