Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Rosh Hodesh Elul; New Moon of Virgo

Every Month has distinct 4 letter permutation connected with it offered by R Joseph Ashkenazi ( ~1450)  of blessed memory. 
It can be found in his inspiring commentary on Sefer Yetzirah.
The 4 letter permutation for Elul is:
Heh Vav Heh Yud:

Focusing on this Name is meant to provide access to the Holy Blessed One; it is like the key for the month. It supports prayers being received on high and answered.  

Every year at this time, tradition invites us to intentionally revisit the journey inward
- to do the important spiritual work of T'shuvah; re-turning to Source. Elul; the month
preceding the High Holy Days is specifically designated for T'Shuvah. We are asked to
take measure of our lives and repair relationships that have been compromised by our
actions, by the actions of others or by the vicissitudes of time. We have this vital opportunity
to reassess intentions and embrace what is healing, nourishing or useful and to release
what no longer serves us.

On the Northern Hemisphere, this time of year marks the end of the growing
season. The farmer's markets are filled with ripe, sweet smelling fruit; the last of the
peaches and nectarines are making space for juicy figs and plump persimmons. Soon
pomegranates will abound. Farmers harvest the fruits of their labor and weigh in their

Each growing season starts with intention. Farmers set out to grow produce of quality
and quantity. The end of the summer's growing season ushers in a new harvest
and initiates the weighing in of our lives journey. Harvest is the process of gathering
mature crops from the fields. This abundant time of year marks the focus of seasonal
celebrations of many religions and cultures around the world. 

Farmers hope that their produce will be enough to sustain them the winter; as now
growth has slowed down or stopped all together. Will the food grown be sufficient for
our needs? It is natural to reflect and assess how we can improve the growing and
harvest processes in future years. 

Jewish tradition teaches that the Earth's cycles manifest deeply in the human psyche
and are mirrored in our life experience. Just as the farmers weigh in produce and hope
that their crops exceed expectation, so too, we reap what we sow during this season.
Elul and the High Holy Days are the time of harvesting the fruits of our work. It is a
time to weigh in and measure what our life has yielded. We ask: Are our intentions
drawing us closer to what we truly value? Are we experiencing the depths of life and
love? Or is our current situation untenable? Do life and love appear blocked? Do we
need to modify our intentions to draw us closer into peace, joy, productivity?

Death and Rebirth also arise as themes during the harvest season and the period of the
High Holy Days. We will chant the awesome and familiar words 'Who will live and who
will die?' 

These powerful words call us to reflect on our own practices and habits;
to examine our lives and ask which habits are useful and nourishing in contrast to those habits which
have become a blockage to joy and love and are perhaps destructive. Let us extend
this question to consider, “what” aspects will live and “what” will we choose to let die.
Some habits are best to be allowed to die - to be released. 

The good news is that this release creates a vital space. For those of us with very full
lives, making space can provide a big relief. New dreams, habits and practices can then
take root. Now, during these High Holidays we have a potent opportunity to co-create
our world for the upcoming year.

Blessings for a nourishing Elul and a year of good health, abundance, clarity, healing, community, generosity,
compassion, understanding, wisdom and inspiration.

Infinite Blessings,

Rabbi T'mimah Ickovits

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