As fulfilling as it was to engage in Shavuot programs, a lot weighs on me. With COVID-19 continuing to ravage Black communities and racist violence all over the news, I almost feel like it’s Yom Kippur instead – the time when Jews are supposed to be most aware of their own mortality.
This week, I tell a friend I’d love to chat but actually I have to run Yom Kippur services are starting soon and I’ve got to repent for my sins before the gates are closed. She laughs. “Well, you’re gay, so you’ve definitely got a lot of repenting to do.”
If, as the Talmud tells us, the blasts of the shofar are meant to remind us of crying, (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 33A – specifically of Sisera’s mother – but that is another subject!), then I would offer the following.
When I left for college my freshman year, I was nervous about exploring a new Jewish community. However, I immediately felt at home as I walked into my university’s Hillel’s Conservative Friday night services and saw the Siddur Sim Shalom, the prayer book I had grown up with.
In Pirkei Avot, the rabbis wrote, “Mitzvah goreret mitzvah, averah goreret averah,” one mitzvah (commandment/good deed) leads to another mitzvah, and one transgression leads to another transgression.
A deep spiritual life is hard to find. While opportunities abound for spiritual connections (yoga, meditation, retreats and the like), for most of us it doesn’t come easy.
Although we’re barely into the dog days of August, the High Holidays are fast approaching. The first of Elul, the Hebrew month that precedes Tishrei and the start of Rosh HaShanah, begins at sundown this Tuesday, which means that Wednesday, August 7th is the first of Elul.