In my early days as an observant Jew, I left a note in the cracks of the Western Wall. I searched my mind for the words to convey my prayers onto paper and wasn’t at all sure God would know or care. I’ve learned since then that every prayer, even the ones scratched out at the last minute and fitted into a crevice between the stones of the Wall, rise to the Creator. Even – or maybe especially – the silent ones.
The upcoming month of Elul leads up to the High Holy Days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (our post on the green tranquility of Yom Kippur in Israel is here). It’s month of intensive heart- and soul-searching in preparation for the awesome days when we are judged and our fates for the coming year decreed. The word itself means “search” in Aramaic. (And at the year’s other axis, Passover, we conduct another physical/spiritual search. Learn about it here.)
Yet Elul has more than one meaning. It’s also an acronym for the phrase “Ani Le-dodi Ve-dodi Li” – I am my beloved’s as He is mine. From the Song of Songs, where God is the beloved and the Jewish people are the singer, a phrase describing unfathomable love.
To come closer to that state of holy love, the Jew has been gifted with an entire month in which to meditate, plumbing the depths of his or her soul to push away layers of darkness. To uncover the forces for good planted in each person at birth, and which it is his/her task to put to work. Because in the Jewish way of thinking, deeds are what count; are the organic product. This is also called “tikun olam” – repairing the world, and is discussed in this post.
During Elul, it’s said, it’s as if the King had left his fortress and stands in the field, available to anyone who approaches. In that consciousness, I must ask myself these things: Have I used my talents to improve His green fields – have I opposed destruction of the resources so freely given to Man on this planet – have I gone willingly to meet my fellow in peace? And what can I still do?
I don’t have much wisdom, but I do know this: the answers are within.
More meditative posts on refining self and planet from Green Prophet:
- Eco-Activist Yeshivah in Jerusalem Brings Torah Down to Earth
- Model Sukkah Suggests Creative Recycling Ideas
Photo of prayer notes by Couturier7 via Flickr.