Dear CBI Members and Friends,
This week’s high holiday preparation message is about the inner work of getting ready.
One tradition teaches us to spend the month before Rosh Hashanah repairing our interpersonal relationships, so that during the Ten Days of Teshuvah (between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) we can focus on repairing our relationship with God. Another tradition suggests that we do the personal / spiritual work of examining our relationship with God before the holidays, and use the Ten Days of Teshuvah to repair relationships with each other.
Either way, this is the perfect time of year to think about our relationships with self and others and God. What’s working, and what needs repair? Where do we need to genuinely apologize and make amends? How do we need to change our actions in order to be better people in the year to come?
To get your mind and heart and soul moving along these lines, here is a link to a beautiful poetic English-language reflection by Rick Dinitz on teshuvah (repentance / return), singable to the same melody as Kol Nidre. It is accompanied by a recording, “liner notes,” and explanations:
Here are links to a few posts and sermons from years past:
- Rabbi Alan Lew on… Teshuvah
- When Granting Forgiveness is Not Mandatory During the High Holidays
- The Dream of a Better Past (my Kol Nidre sermon a few years ago)
- Choosing Again
If you’re open to reading something longer, here are two books that are invaluable to me — I return to them every single year at this season, and they always enrich and inform my season:
- This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Rabbi Alan Lew
- The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season by Marcia Falk
Both are available as bound books or as Kindle e-books, and both are extraordinary.
Take some time this week to delve into this inner work – looking at your relationship with yourself, and with others, and with tradition, and with our Source. The more of it we do, the more easily we’ll be able to stand before God (whatever that word means to each of us) with a clear and open heart.
Blessings to all,