Jew in the suburbs

Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur: The Call to Self-Improvement Part 2



Hello Blog Readers,



We are still in the Hebrew month of Elul, the Seventeenth day of Elul to be exact and preparations for the New Year, Rosh Hashanah and the day of repentance Yom Kippur are well underway.  If you feel you have gotten off to a slow start, or have not started at all as of yet, don’t worry.  It is alright, you still have time.  As I said previously in Rosh Hashanah the call to self improvement, the month of Elul is a special time for prayer.  This is not to say that once the month of Elul passes, the doors of prayer are closed.  The doors of prayer are never closed.  Hashem, G-d, always listens.  My personal interpretation is that the month of Elul is a time that G-d pays extra attention to what our prayers are. I asked you to examine, as I am examining the answers to some questions including what it is you want out of life Some of you may be thinking, that is very nice but how do I ask for what I want, and how do I know what it is that I truly desire? I. can’t give you all the answers and I will never claim to be able to but I can give you some suggestions based on my own experience.


  If you have an idea of what you want, sit in a quiet room and write these things down.  Don’t be concerned with how silly you think some of the things you write might be, write until you feel you can’t write anymore about what you want or think you want.  Then read through your list, depending on how long the list took, you might want to leave it for awhile, before you go over it.  This all depends on how tired you feel.  When you read through the list, ask yourself if every goal is important.  If you read something you find to be unimportant or superficial put a line through it.  Read through your list a second time to make sure that everything on it is a goal you wish to accomplish. 


In the case you need to ask for help knowing what you want, I suggest that when you have time you go into a room by yourself,  it must be a room where you can have privacy. Once you find this place, get comfortable and begin to talk.  No, you will not get a verbal answer, but this exercise may give you an answer, all the same.

  When I am feeling confused I do this. The best time I find is at night when everyone is sleeping, I think, and then I start talking until the situation I am dealing with begins to become less confusing to me. I pray to G-d without asking him anything yet.  I just pour out my heart, like I would with a best friend who is greatly trusted.  This communication process helps me to understand myself in ways I don’t think I could otherwise. It makes me feel that Hashem is very near.


Rosh Hashanah is a time we can allow ourselves to return to Hashem and during the month of Elul Hashem is begging us to come closer to him, to return to him and to what is most important in life. Sometimes a person can’t find the words to express all that they feel.  In this situation, I look up at the ceiling or sky and say “Hashem, there is so much I want to say to you but the only word I can think of is Help”.   Just saying that one little word, “Help” helps me with whatever situation I am in.  Again, I do not get a verbal response, and the problem may not be immediately solved, but I can feel a difference many times the instant that I do this.


Over the years, I have heard some stories of married couples renewing their wedding vows.  These couples have been together for years and have barely been separated since the beginning of their married life and love each other.  These couples were all already legally married.  So why did they choose to renew vows?  They did this act because they have deep love for each other.  It was important to these couples that they express that love and commitment in front of people but most importantly in front of each other.  These couples promised to be good spouses and to be better spouses than they had been over the years.   Rosh Hashanah is a time that we can very effectively, through a process, recommit ourselves to Hashem, and make new commitments to him to be better people who have better relationships with him and the important people in our lives.  Hashem brings himself closer to us and we help to bring ourselves closer to him during this time.  This is why the month of Elul is a particularly special time for prayer. Elul is often the right time for our heartfelt prayers to be answered with a yes.


Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur: The Call to Self-Improvement



Hello Blog Readers,


We are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, which means that I and many others are gearing up for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance.  Rosh Hashanah is the first day of the month of Tishrei which is next month and Yom Kippur is 10 days later, on the tenth of Tishrei.  Some of you may be thinking to yourselves, Rosh Hashanah is one holiday and Yom Kippur is another holiday, both are relatively short, so why, would one need a whole month to prepare?  In short Rosh Hashanah is about a new year, and a new year is a new beginning with new opportunities. Yom Kipper, again in short, is about making repentance for those things one did not do to the best of their ability, or didn’t do at all the year before.  It is about repenting for the mistakes made the previous year.  Any accomplishment a person achieves is made because they went through a process. 


Preparation for a New Year and Repentance is the same as preparation in order to achieve any goal.   One needs to go through a process to achieve the goal.  Elul gives people the opportunity to prepare for both Repentance and a fresh start.


Elul is a special time for self improvement.  The month of Elul can seem daunting to anyone; there are countless classes, books, and articles on the subject.  If you are looking for these things during this time of year, they can be found everywhere.  As human beings, we can’t read every single book, or attend every single class as we can only be in one place at one time.  However, we as human beings can and are expected to do our best.  Although, the call for self improvement may seem the most frightening of all goals because it involves, we humans looking deep into ourselves, the goal is worth having and worth achieving.  If you speak to someone who has just accomplished a goal, such as graduating from school, you will notice that the person is not just happy and satisfied because the school is at an end, the person is happy and satisfied because of the work they did in order to achieve that graduation.  The work is the process.  It is the process that makes a person feel that they have done something important.  If a person wouldn’t graduate without a lot of preparation, why would a person go into Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur without preparation?


The call to self improvement may be loud   and difficult, but in my opinion, answering the call is one of the deepest expressions of love for yourself, for those around you and for G-d.  Many people would make the excuse that they are too busy and don’t have enough time for self improvement. The month of Elul gives a person that time.  A time to evaluate yourself and decide what it is you really want for yourself out of life.  Finding this out allows you to know yourself better. Personally, when I feel I know myself better, I feel closer to G-d.  In my opinion, this process improves my relationship with G-d and from my personal experience; self improvement makes me a happier person.


  What do you want out of life? What areas of life would you like to improve? What parts of yourself would you like to change for the better? What did you do last year that you want to do better this year? What are your goals for your new opportunity for a new beginning? I ask that you examine the answers to these questions as  I am examining  them.  Once you have an idea ask G-d for what it is you want. If you don’t know ask that G-d help you figure it out. Remember G-d is Compassionate. HE listens to prayer, and the month of Elul is a special time for prayer.  


 May all of you have a meaningful Elul and a beautiful and happy New Year!