It’s that time of year
As we are ending one year we are already transitioning to a new one, trying to improve our habits, learn some more Torah, add more mitzvot and evaluate this past year’s accomplishments and struggles. In Eul we explore the landscapes of our souls (see Targum Onkeles Bamidbar 13:21). It’s a time of introspection, fine tuning our spiritual goals and turning towards Hashem. Throughout the month of Elul we read mizmor 27:
My heart tells me to seek Hashem’s face and speak to him…אֶת־פָּנֶיךָ ה’ אֲבַקֵּשׁ…I seek you Hashem (v.8).
This teshuva period began on Tisha b’Av where we are introduced to the idea of pouring our hearts out to God, as the verse says: ‘שִׁפְכִי כַמַּיִם לִבֵּךְ נֹכַח פְּנֵי ה (Eicha 2:19). Just as water flows freely, one can speak to Hashem unabashedly. If you would utter the stirrings of your deeper desires to God, allow an uninhibited torrent of thoughts and feelings to spill off of your lips, what might you say?
I want You in my life. I want to feel Your presence, to be open to receive the messages You send me every day. Open my heart to you, and help me lean into a better me. Give me the courage to fall down and the strength to rise up כִּי שֶׁבַע יִפּוֹל צַדִּיק וָקָם (Mishlei 24:16)… Again and again, and again!
Hakadosh Baruch Hu,
I want to hear the shofar blasts, this basic animal sound, and commit to living a simple life. No animal questions its purpose-every other creature knows what it is here to do! In the tekiot of Elul and Tishrei I will daven for things to be clear and uncomplicated. I want to serve you, be a true eved Hashem even for five focused minutes a day. I want to learn Torah daily, כִּי אִם בְּתוֹרַת ה’ חֶפְצוֹ וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ יֶהְגֶּה יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה, My desire is to learn Your Torah, and make it my Torah, day and night. (Tehillim1:2 Rashi). Please help me to be a simple Jew and turn to You.
I have emunah that You placed me in these particular circumstances with these gifts and these challenges. I have emunah that You, Hashem have blessed me with this life for a mission. Please guide me to actualize the vast potential within, please help me to be a devoted messenger, to bring more light to this world לדוד ה’ אורי וישעי (Tehillim 27:1) as YOU are my light, and You are within me, let me shine bright!
To the Master of the Universe-
Please help me to find my כַּנְפֵי רוּחַ , my wings (Orot Hakodesh, Rav Kook). Sometimes my wings get heavy…laden with all of the “shoulds” upon me…Sometimes I feel lost and so alone. Help me soar high and free, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, help me to be the very best version of me that I can be. Show me how to believe in me, that there’s a holy spark of You in me.
The Netivot Shalom (parshat Re’eh) explains that each and every individual is unique and enters this world with a particular tafkid or mission, which only he or she can fulfill. Each day is a new creation with its very own special purpose. This idea is seen in the prayer of birchat kriat Shema where we say in His goodness, Hashem renews the work of creation every day, הַמְחַדֵּשׁ בְּטוּבו בְּכָל יוֹם תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית. Just as the world is constantly created anew, so is each individual. Every day is a chance for new beginnings, for a new you to emerge. Those whose hope is in Hashem will have renewed strength; they will grow new plumes like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow tired (Yishayahu 40:31)
Elul reminds us that we can make opportunities to turn to Hashem, remind ourselves that we are a soul, sent to this world for a reason. And every day – we are gifted with a chance to shine our light, spread our wings and express the greatness that lies within.