Personal Reflections for Elul: Mindful Turning to the Path of Love
Rabbi Jeff Foust
For me, the key to the entire Jewish New Year period comes in the month of Elul, the Hebrew month which precedes Rosh HaShanah. I often have heard people complaining about being weighed down by all the emphasis during the holiday on the mistakes and wrong doings in our lives that we need to repair. Elul reminds us that the very foundation for the spiritual work that we do at this time of year is returning (in Hebrew Teshuvah) to a loving relationship with the Source of all life, with each other, with our own higher selves, and with the ecology of our earth household. Feeling this love provides me with both the support and the motivation to reciprocate the love and to work through and resolve anything that’s getting in the way of that loving relationship. Then even if someone else is still unable to open their hearts, at least my heart can be open.
This emphasis on love is at the very center of the meaning of Elul, which comes from its initials which point to a passage from the Biblical Book, the Song of Songs: Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li/ I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.”
Becoming aligned and feeling at one in love is also a central part of our ritual of blowing the Shofar, which is done every weekday morning in Elul. We begin and end with the call of Tekiah, the single blast of the shofar, which powerfully resonates with our underlying oneness in love, and with the reality of love and reconciliation always being there for us if we only open our hearts to it. The other two broken blasts of the Shofar, the Shvarim and the Teruah, represent the broken places in our lives, and are bookended and held in love, while with the support of the One Who is the Source of all life, love, and blessing, we work on our Teshuvah, our return to living in loving relationship.
Rabbi Jeff Foust is Jewish Adviser and member of the Spiritual Life Center at Bentley University. He is a student and teacher of Kabbalah (embodied spirituality) emphasizing the integration of the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and material aspects of our lives. He is also active in building positive interfaith relations, in pastoral care and counseling, leading creative services and lifecycle events, and teaching a wide variety of subjects such as Profits and Prophets, Biblical Pathfinders; Davenology (How to Make Prayer Real); Kabbalah, meditation, and creative movement.
For anyone interested in an opportunity to taste first hand some of the spiritual depth of this Elul experience of Tehshuvah through love, including the shofar blowing, Jeff will be leading a free global satsang guided meditation and discussion teleconference on September 6/ 19 Elul at 11:30 AM Eastern Daylight time. The hosts for the Satsang/Higher Knowing teleconference are Boulder’s Humanities Team and Portland Oregon’s Rev. Anakha Coman. Connection details will be posted at www.humanitysteam.org and www.anakhacoman.com.