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We are in ‘Elul Zman’, the month preceding the Jewish New Year, a time of special intimacy with the Holy Blessed One, when the Rabbis urge us to begin the work of repentance and return that is the spiritual focus of the High Holy Days. The Rabbis interpret the letters of the Hebrew name for the month of Elul as an acronym for the verse, Ani le dodi ve dodi li, ‘I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me.’  This verse, sometimes engraved in tiny letters on the inside of Jewish wedding rings, is taken from the Song of Songs, the greatest love poem written between the Jewish People and God. It is an invitation to embrace the weeks preceding Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur as a unique opportunity for reflection and preparation, whilst God is close to us and near, supported, held and encouraged by God’s love for us; an invitation to do the sometimes joyful, sometimes painful and difficult inner work that is necessary for change and transformation, no matter the stage of our lives where we find ourselves.

Included in this week’s email you will find questions to aid the process of Cheshbon Hanefesh, literally: spiritual stock-taking. I encourage you to set aside time to write a response to some of these questions, or to choose a few of them for reflection and discussion with a partner, family member, your children or a friend.

At this moment in our lives, may we all grow closer to the best version of ourselves we would like to become in this coming year of 5781.

Wishing you all a Sweet and Peaceful Shabbat,

Rabbi Lisa