SOMETHING BIG IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN
AND IT STARTS WITH SOMETHING SMALL
It’s time for a change of direction. Time for a change of heart. Time to look back at the past year and make plans for the year to come.
It starts with a sliver of light that will grow into a beacon illuminating the night sky. This weekend, look for the appearance of the New Moon. It’s the harbinger of our Season of Change, the Jewish season of repentance and renewal. This new moon marks the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul, just four weeks and change (!) before Rosh Hashanah.
I know it’s still summer, and believe me, I’m feeling it. I still have a few weekend getaways planned: time with our kids, time for concerts, and time for celebrations, including a 35th wedding anniversary for Brian and me. Yet during the workweek, I’m leafing through the machzor (High Holy Day prayerbook), meeting with service leaders, searching for inspiring readings and inspirational texts to teach.
Change, as we all know, takes time. It takes intention. It takes practice. This past month I focused on learning Spanish in an intensive summer session at Boston University. Though I had little space for thinking about the Holy Days, I became keenly aware of the importance of preparation. Without spending time on homework every day, I would have missed out on learning during class.
The same is true for the preparation for coming to the synagogue on the High Holy Days. While we may think of the 10 Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur as our spiritual booster shot, the month of Elul is our Jewish time for reflection, becoming healthy enough to benefit from the annual shot in the arm. Whether learning a new language or learning to be kinder; to think before we speak/email/post/tweet; to have the courage to act on our principles and the humility to admit our mistakes, that reflection gives us the foundation for the work of Tishri, the first month of the Jewish year.
Let the moon in the sky be your reminder to take a few minutes each day to do your Rosh Hashanah homework. Consider the inner changes you need to practice, and acknowledge the strengths and successes that you want to celebrate and perpetuate.
I look forward to seeing the small changes in each of us and in our community that will lead to a great change in our country and our world. I firmly believe that a change is gonna come.
Rabbi Barbara Penzner