The Hebrew month of Elul begins one month before Rosh Hashanah (in 2013, that means it begins August 7.) For some, the High Holy Days represent a time to gather with family and friends, eat apples and honey and wish each other a Happy New Year. For others, the High Holy Days, and the 30 days surrounding them can be a profound endeavor in soul searching, making things right with yourself and others, and with the Great Mystery of Time and Space.
In the past few years, there has been a proliferation of resources for individual spiritual preparation for the month of Elul. You can receive daily emails in your inbox from many wise rabbis, or read books that help guide the process of “getting ready” and making this time of year a potential for huge transformation.
It’s an opportunity not to be missed, if you choose to do the “work.”
If you are a synagogue-goer, it is often tempting to just show up at synagogue with the expectation that the rabbi’s sermon is going to move you and “work for you.” However, in my experience, it is our own “work” in the days before the holidays, and the 10 days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that really makes a difference. We have to do the “work” in order for the make the holidays “work.”
By the way, the name of the month of Elul is an acronym of a verse from Song of Songs, “Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li” Aleph, Lamed, Vav, and Lamed.
If you are ready to get started (like now) on the spiritual journey right now that is built-in ingeniously into our tradition, check out these books and daily/weekly subscriptions to accompany you on the way. (YES there is A LOT. Try not to get overwhelmed. Pick a few to check out and subscribe to a couple that move you)
This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared by Alan Lew (z’’l) Absolutely my favorite book of all time about the High Holy Days – profound and wise, Can’t recommend it enough. (Also available as eBook) http://www.amazon.com/This-Real-Completely-Unprepared-Transformation/dp/0316739081
60 DAYS: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays by Rabbi Simon Jacobson https://shop.meaningfullife.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=60D
Websites and Email subscriptions
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (The Velveteen Rabbi) has a blog you can subscribe to. She is quite talented and insightful and always refreshing: http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2013/08/blogelul-1-prepare.html
Rabbi Yael Levy is posting weekly and daily inspirations. You can subscribe to her blog here and also follow her on Facebook and Twitter: http://mishkan.org/a-way-in
Rabbi Phyllis Sommer is blogging and tweeting Elul. Check out her website to subscribe: http://imabima.blogspot.com
Journey into the High Holy Days with Amichai Lau-Lavie, the incredibly talented founder of Storahtelling has a daily email you can subscribe to. For the options on receiving his insights: http://labshul.org/?p=472
Meditation Preparing for Rosh Hashanah (podcast) by the amazing artist, singer and meditation teacher, Laura Hegfield:http://www.shinethedivine.com/podcasts/meditations/minuchablev/minuchablevrh.mp3?utm_source=Eluletter&utm_campaign=July+Newsletter&utm_medium=email
Rabbi Simon Jacobson has a daily email you can subscribe to, as well as a book called 60 Days, A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, Sign up for the daily newsletter here: http://www.meaningfullife.com/subscribe/index_60days_subscribe.php
Jewels of Elul – a daily email by different Jewish author, thinker or artist put together by Craig Taubman. This year, the topic is Welcoming. Subscribe here: http://www.letmypeoplesing.com/jewels/
Rabbi Mark Hurvitz: funny Tom Lehrer video about “being prepared” (Mark you are dating yourself) and APPS (yes) that include a daily shofar alarm: http://www.davka.org/2013/08/07/prepare/
Daily Meditations and Writing Exercises on Repentance by Rabbi Debra Orenstein http://www.rabbidebra.com/elul-meditations.html?utm_source=Eluletter&utm_campaign=July+Newsletter&utm_medium=email
Preparing for the New You from Reform Judaism Magazine (reflections from 9 Jewish thinkers) http://reformjudaismmag.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=3080&utm_source=Eluletter&utm_campaign=July+Newsletter&utm_medium=email
Ted Talks: Try Something New for 30 Days by Matt Cutts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnfBXjWm7hc
Landlord (Forgiveness) – Jewish Food for Thought (animated series) http://jewishfoodforthought.com/?page_id=20&utm_source=Eluletter&utm_campaign=July+Newsletter&utm_medium=email
Beautiful translation and Hebrew of Psalm 27 by Rabbi Yael Levy, traditionally recited daily during the month of Elul: http://mishkan.org/sites/default/files/Ps27_yael_levy_translation.pdf
(Thank you to the Institute for Jewish Spirituality for sharing the some of these resources. To learn more about IJS and to subscribe to their newsletter: http://jewishspirituality.org/?utm_source=Eluletter&utm_campaign=July+Newsletter&utm_medium=email