This Shabbat, we begin the month of Elul. Yes, it is only one month until Rosh Hashanah!
It is a special and awesome time of opportunity for spirituality and connection.
On Rosh Hashanah we approach God as HaMelech, the King on His throne. But a story is attributed to the Baal Shem Tov, a master of Kabbalah and founder of Chassidism, who said that Elul is a time when God makes an effort to be especially accessible to the people and their prayers. The Baal Shem Tov likens it to the King leaving the Palace to be able to meet the people in the fields. He said that a King may always be approachable, but one must travel, make an appointment, obtain permissions, and wait many weeks or months to gain an audience which, even if granted, may only be very short. During the meeting one must be very careful of their dress and speech and may be very nervous indeed.
The Baal Shem Tov related that during the month of Elul, God wants to be especially approachable and makes it especially easy for His people to find and meet with Him if they will only try. We can be who we are and come as we are. We should not wait until Rosh Hashanah, after the King has returned to the palace. We can approach Him now when He is still enjoying His summer vacation with us.
Our Parasha Re’eh begins with the words “Re’eh Anochi” which literally means “See, I…” But the word Anochi is also the word that God uses to identify himself (e.g. first word in the 10 Commandments). So the Sages teach us that as we begin Elul (when Re’eh is traditionally read), we must begin by literally looking for God in our lives. “Look for Me!!!” God says. The Baal Shem Tov teaches that with God being in the field and not in the palace, this should be easier than ever.
May this Elul be a special time of spirituality and connection for each of us. Adat Shalom is offering a special opportunity to engage more deeply in the High Holidays this year on August 30th. Consider this as another opportunity to prepare to meet the King. Don’t walk into Rosh Hashanah cold!
This Shabbat our Torah Study at Adat Shalom features Rabbi Jason Miller. He will take us on a journey through the Torah portion, in which Moses explains the punishments for idol worshiping and the need to observe the Jewish dietary laws. We will delve into the text and also discuss how our 21st century Judaism can relate to our ancestors’ warnings against idol worship and their prescription of how to eat.
9:45 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.
P.S.S. Judaism is beautiful in its manifold paths to connecting with the Almighty. Adat Shalom welcomes you with many of them. This Shabbat Soulful Yoga with Rabbi Rachel Shere returns to Adat Shalom at 10:00 a.m. It is another facet of the beautiful gem Adat Shalom is and another face of our welcoming family. Experience. Feel free to contact the Synagogue for more information.