August 31, 2009
At the beginning of Elul, I went to a shivah in Princeton, New Jersey, for my son Ivan’s mother-in-law. Muriel and I were about the same age, both loved books and quiet, and although we didn’t know each other well, we shared a special bond through our children. Only with her could I share my gratitude for Caroline in Ivan’s life, and she could tell me in her last days how much she loved my son. This was a connection I cherished and will miss. There is solace in seeing how Muriel’s illness and death matured and deepened our children’s love for each other.
Today is the eleventh day of this lovely month that brings us closer to the Source, the Beloved who whispers, “I’m not asking for you to change your whole life. Just open up for me the eye of a needle. Give me one moment, one space, one corner of your life, and I will open up for you the widest corridors of the Great Hall.: (from Pesikta d’Rav HaKahana). We use imagination to enter what cannot be spoken. The king has been away from the palace and has just arrived home. For a little while, he stays in the garden outside the palace after dismounting his mighty steed, and greets his beloved people. Then he waves and goes inside.
Elul is the little while before, the time when each of us may sidle up and say hi. This is the time to ask for whatever you need. The king smiles, not wearing the usual velvet and gold, happy to be home in his loafers and jeans. It’s the best moment for granted requests. Once the Days of Awe arrive, the king is on his turf, inside the palce, when we petition him. But for now, he’s on our turf. So don’t wait until Rosh Hashanah to do the work-do it now! And if you could physically go out and meet the One face to face, what would you ask, what would you say? (If the masculine energy interferes in this imaginal creation, picture Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I.)
To help you step outside to have your divine enounter, HaMakom is offering a few powerful gatherings of the energy. First, next Shabbat, 5 September, we are inviting the universe to our Shabbat services. Dayenu (enough) that it’s Shabbos, and we’ll be doing a special teaching on the Thirteen Paths of Lovingkindness that God taught Moses to say when God wanted to destroy the People. [Imagine this! God needs us for anger management. How much more do we need to remind one another that we were born to love?] We’ll be studying this from the mystical text, The Palm Tree of Deborah by Moses Cordovero. And, it will be followed by a Kiddush luncheon hosted by Len and Marcia Torobin.
The following week brings us to Selichot, 12 September, the evening of forgiveness that we mark on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. It will take place, as it always has, at the rabbi’s house at 8:30 pm. Remember that the rabbi has a new house. It will be there that we will gather at 8:30 for havdalah, a film, dessert, and the service. We’ll be showing The Power of Forgiveness, a sophisticated documentary from the perspective of societies as well as individuals. From Belfast to Cambodia, with Elie Wiesel, Thich Nat Hanh, Marianne Williamson, and others, the film offers many ways to understand how forgiveness can be a powerful spiritual exercise as well as a repair of the world.
This year, Hazzan Cindy Freedman and I are pleased that our High Holiday services will be enriched by the presence of rabbinic student Yafa Chase, and Rabbi Jack Schlachter. He is a dear friend and a skilled rabbi with a beautiful voice. Following Shabbat Rosh Hashanah services on 19 September, Gay and I are hosting a lunch at home. We need to limit it to members, so if you haven’t sent in your membership yet, please do. We know it’s a tough year for many of us and we appreciate your efforts to sustain us.
As you enjoy these beautiful late summer days, open up an eye of a needle to look deeply and find compassion for yourself and others. Don’t forget to forgive yourself. And make those phone calls and write the notes asking forgiveness that help you to enter the year with a new self.
I ask forgiveness of anyone that I’ve hurt or harmed in the last year, and I’d ask that they come to me in case I’m clueless. I’d like to do better.
Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker