This is the month when we turn inward, to consider how the past year has gone and how we have responded to the challenges life has brought our way during this time.
It's also the month when we turn outward, reaching out to those whom we've wronged, whom we've hurt by our action -- or inaction -- to own our mistakes and to ask others for forgiveness as we begin the work of repairing the fractures from the hurt we've caused.
Elul is not for the faint-hearted. But it is for everyone. And so it's a time of year when, at the end of the whirlwind of summer fun, we pause. We fall silent, and we ponder what has been, what is, and what might be. This is why Elul is the only month in the Jewish year that has no fast days or feast days, no distractions from the task at hand, which is "At-One-Ment" -- atonement.
All of this is preparation for the High Holy Days, which begin one month from now. Ideally, we'll spend this month of Elul making amends with those people in our lives, so that on Rosh Hashanah, we can begin the ten-day process of getting right with God, or the Universe, or what I've come to call The Is-ness.
We can't do the latter until we do the former. That's just how it works. And it makes sense, if we remember that each of us is a reflection of B'tzelem Elohim -- the Divine Image.
So I'm going quiet here for a little while, and also on my Facebook-Music page, while I prepare for my own t'shuvah -- returning -- to the cleaning out and and sense of renewal of the soul that is required each year at this time.
During the month of Elul, Jews refer to Psalm 27, many reciting it daily during this month.
I leave you with a musical setting of a couple of lines from the Psalm, "Achat Sha'alti".
If you are observing the rituals and customs of this quiet month, may your contemplation and actions of atonement bring you closer to peace.
If you are not observing these customs, consider taking some time anyway -- to stop, look and listen.
Stop the hustle-bustle of your everyday life, for a moment, or ten, or an hour.
Look at what's around you -- the smiling faces of family and friends, the sadness of those in need, and the steps you might want to take as you react to this juxtaposition of realities.
Listen to the world around you -- birdsong, car traffic, children's laughter, the cheering crowd at a sporting event, or the breeze rustling through the trees outside your window. How do you react to these sounds? What feels like it's missing? What do you want to hear more of in the coming year?
May the coming month provide all of us with insight, wisdom and peace.