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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turn Around

Elul 1 

We have learned that when the Holy One, blessed be God, looks upon the works of human beings and sees that we are good, then the Holy Ancient One is revealed in entirety and we stand face to face with each other and with God, and the world is blessed and all becomes One….But when humanity sins, the Holy Ancient One is hidden and we stand back to back to one another and to God…. (The Zohar, Vayikra 15a)

The Zohar, one of the most beautiful and mysterious books of our sacred Jewish library and one of the sources of Jewish mysticism, suggests with this beautiful imagery that the month of Elul, that leads us each year to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, can be a time of turning and of turning around. 
We begin this month “back to back” with ourselves, with one another and with God.  We are most certainly alienated in some manner, lost, alone, adrift.  Matters of religion and God seem so distant from our minds.  Our lives may at times feel chaotic and confused, our plates are so full, our bills so abundant, our time so limited, our tasks and responsibilities so overwhelming, our relationships so in need of attention and work; there is so much to do and so little time.

Yet we have nothing but time:
Elul comes, just in time, to bring us time.
Time to turn from “back to back” to “face to face.” 
Time for opportunity,
Time for potential,
Time for preparation. 
Time for growth,
Time for change,
Time for renewal,
Time for forgiveness,
Time for hope.
Time for you,
Time for me,
Time for us,
Time for God.
And so it begins:

Turn around. 
Look into the eyes of the other.
Gaze, even, into the eyes in the mirror.
Make eye contact.
Be present. 
Appreciate the one you see. 
Be grateful.
Be at peace.

During Elul we turn from “back to back” until, slowly, delicately, hesitantly, we stand “face to face” with ourselves, with each other, with God.
May the month of Elul bring us all blessings.  
May Elul help us turn around.

--Rabbi Jim Bennett

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