Today is the 21st of Elul; most Ashkenazi Jews started reciting Selichot (penitential prayers preparatory for the High Holidays) this evening, after the end of Shabbat.
It registered on my consciousness that it was Elul a few weeks ago when we celebrated Rosh Chodesh. But I was very busy with travel, meetings, etc. And I now find I’ve squandered most of the month of Elul, the month the Jewish calendar sets aside for introspection and getting ready for the High Holidays. I’ve cruised right through the last several weeks just the same as the weeks before…absorbed with work, personal stuff, trying to squeeze in a little time to study here and there…but not engaging in the self-reflection called for by this time of preparation for the High Holidays.
Which is kind of embarrassing, considering the sermons I’ve given about the importance of using the month of Elul for spiritual preparation. Click here to see my drash for parsha Shoftim in 5764, for example.
So I figured if I’m behind on my spiritual preparations for the holidays — it could well be that some of the readers of this blog are too. So if you haven’t yet started the process of reflecting on the past year, taking stock of yourself, finding the places for improvement — now would be a good time to start. It is absolutely true that the spiritual significance of the High Holidays are directly proportional to the amount of effort and preparation you put into it. If you’re not aware of your sins, pounding your chest on Yom Kippur is not going to arouse much emotion.
Shavua tov, and may the next week + between now and Rosh Hashana be packed with meaning for you…meanwhile, I’ve got to go write in my cheshbon hanefesh diary (which will NOT get published on the blog! 🙂 )