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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Personal & Community Selichot

Last night was the service of Selichot. Literally meaning apologies, selichot continues the ramp-up toward Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as the month of Elul draws to a close. We publicly recite prayers that bring the work of Elul to the forefront and to the responsibility and care of the entire community.   

We've looked inward at ourselves, who we are and what our deeds and actions mean.  Last night, we joined ourselves others.  Being a member if a community means taking  responsibility for our own actions and misgivings as well as those of our neighbors. The language of our prayers change from the first person, "me" or "I," to "ours" and "we."  While some of the things that we've done individually that we ask forgiveness for are ours alone.  For example, not treating those around me with the utmost respect at all times is an area of personal growth; however, my actions has influenced many and my traits, good and bad, affect others' attitudes.  When I can tighten someone's day, they might treat someone else differently because of that. The reciprocal is also true, negatively loves company. 

Today, I ask not just myself, but those close to me to help make me aware when I stray from the path of goodness. I expect my friends and family to be fair yet vigilant with their support in showing me when I stray from the path.  If they don't expect the same from themselves, that's okay - I am only able to set expectations on meaningful personal change from myself.

The path of goodness and the path of happiness are often separate from each other and often at odds with each other. 

What are your challenges with joining your journey with the journey of others in the community?

What gratification can you find by sharing your journey with others?  

How does this work of introspection bridge the personal work of teshuvah and the community aspect of working together for a common good?

Cantor Seth Warner 

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