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Return to the Home of your Soul

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Rabbi Yitzhak, September/October 2011

“Return again, return again, return to the home of your soul.” The words to this song written by Reb Shlomo Carlebach z’tzl, beautifully describe the essence of teshuvah, the spiritual work that Jewish tradition calls us to engage in during this elevated season of the yearly cycle.

The month of Elul, which we have just entered, is understood to be an auspicious time for accomplishing the personal growth, change and healing needed to improve our lives. This month which immediately precedes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time dedicated to making a personal inventory of our thoughts, feelings, and actions and reviewing the possibilities for self-improvement, turning toward our highest potential.

This month, in a series of Sunday afternoon classes, Rabbi Boris and I will offer guidance and resources for the process of engaging in the work of teshuvah in our class, Preparing the Heart for the High Holy Days. I am looking forward to this course for a number of reasons including the opportunity to work closely with Rabbi Boris in preparation for the upcoming Days of Awe.

Soon we will be gathering as a community to celebrate the renewal that is experienced during the Days of Awe. The month of Elul grants us the time to prepare ourselves and do the essential work of teshuvah. This involves rectifying and resolving difficulties and dissonances in our inter-personal relationships as well as our more inward personal relationship with The One Who Gives Us Life. The degree to which we each attune ourselves to the purpose and possibilities of this season, will significantly impact the quality of what we are able to experience together during these High Holy Days. Just as the quality of an orchestra’s music is determined by the sum total of effort of all of the individual musicians, so it is with a community in prayer seeking to be a Kehilat Kodesh, a holy community. Let us each do what we can to prepare ourselves for the deep spiritual work ahead for our community and the Household of Israel as we seek to elevate our lives through the process of teshuvah.

I wish you all a season of joyful growth, trusting in the human capacity to grow and change and trusting that as we do our work Hashem will bless our efforts to return to the home of our souls.

Shana Tova Umetuka, May you be blessed with a Sweet New Year.
Rabbi Yitzhak

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