Sunday, September 7, 2008

Elul 7, 5768

The last month of the Hebrew year 5768 is Elul, and today is the seventh day of the month of Elul. Spiritually Elul is significant because it leads up to the holiest moments of the Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah (New Years) on the first of Tishrei and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on the tenth of Tishrei.

Eleven years ago I purchased a guided journal for meditation and reflection during Elul and the first ten days of Tishrei. I've begun that journal three times in the past 11 years, generally running out of steam after 7 to 10 days into the project. This year, I'm going to try to work through the project, using my blog.
In Judaism faith and practices are inextricably intertwined. One important expression of that in Judaism is tikkun olam -- the obligation to engage in repairing the world, making it a better place. Faith and practices are mutually reinforcing, through practice we renew faith.

There are many kinds of practice, some focused inwardly heshbon hanefesh to make an accounting of the soul and prepare us for the outward practice. It is this type of practice we focus on in Elul.

During Elul it is traditional to recite and consider Psalm 27.

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life,
whom should I dread?
Psalm 27:1
note: all quotes are from the TANAK translated and published by The Jewish Publication Society in 1999 (5759).

My greatest failing and weakness in life is allowing myself to be governed by fear --fear of others, fear of loss of control, fear of fear itself. (See poem in previous post). My fear of being controlled by others, often leads me into hostile and manipulative behaviors. The paradox is that when I act this way, I am not acting freely, but rather am being controlled by my fear.

I foolishly thought that once I got tenure and had security in my livelihood that my fear reactions would subside. But fear had become a habit, a habit that I need to work to eradicate.


maryt/theteach said...

Sue, we all suffer from fear of something...fear of a loved one dying, fear of illness, fear of accidents, all kinds of fears. We have friends so that they can help us with the fear. I will keep you in my thoughts and my heart of you keep me in yours. :)

Thanks for commenting on my blog!

maryt/theteach said...

Not "of" "if" :)