Being Enough: Practices for the Month of Elul, Week #4
With Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg and Emily Herzlin
Welcome to the final week of Being Enough: Practices for the Month of Elul. We are so grateful to practice with you as we prepare to greet the New Year. In this series we will share Week 4 thoughts by Emily Herzlin, Practices in Daily Life, and Meditation.
A few tips to keep in mind:
You don’t need to have any prior experience with Jewish learning, Jewish practice or meditation to participate
You don’t need to be Jewish to participate.
Try to set aside 5-10 minutes each day for the meditation. If you don’t get to the practice every day, that’s okay. You can always start again the next day.
Week Four: Tzedakah -- Healing Our Hearts, Healing Our World
By Emily Herzlin
During the month of Elul we are invited to recite Psalm 27 every day. It has always puzzled me why we recite this particular psalm at this time of year, a text so full of strife, battle, and fear of abandonment. It’s a rough one. But these verses hold the key for me this year:
One thing I ask of YHVH,
Only that do I seek:
To live in the house of YHVH
All the days of my life,
To gaze upon the beauty of YHVH,
To frequent his temple….
I sacrifice in His tent with shouts of joy,
Singing and chanting a hymn to YHVH.
I read these lines and ask myself: What does it mean this year to live in the house of YHVH? To frequent the temple? To sacrifice with shouts of joy? Here is what comes up for me:
This year, we are called more than ever to the work of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. It may seem like an insurmountable task. We may not feel smart enough, or strong enough, or healthy enough, or whatever, to make a difference. But what if this work of repair could start with something else: with just being you. Not dwelling on what you lack, but sharing as the psalmist does with shouts of joy--who you are, and the gifts you have to offer that are uniquely yours.
If, in this very moment, we are in touch with who we are, with what we have to offer to ourselves and the world, and we do just that--share our wisdom, express the fullness of our being, speak truthfully and compassionately, act courageously--we don’t have to seek YHVH’s house. We’re in it. Right now. Already. We can build the temple in any moment of breathing, being alive, being present. Our offering to YHVH is our kindness, bravery, pain, love, our showing up to this moment fully. We can recognize the qualities, skills, and wisdom that are uniquely ours to bring to this work of Tikkun Olam. It will take all of us, and all of our efforts, to build a more equitable, just, compassionate world.
Practice in Daily Life
Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg asks in her meditation on Psalm 27: “Where is God’s temple? Is it a building? A place? A time? Is it a church, synagogue, mosque, or zendo? Is it a mountain peak or jungle or a rushing river? Is it an orphanage or hospital? Is this God’s temple?” This week we invite you to consider the possibility that right where you are at any moment may be God’s temple. And if it is, what can you offer in this very moment? It might look like cooking a meal for someone who is sick,, or noticing you’re in pain and taking a rest, or standing up for someone being mistreated. Take a moment whenever you remember to pause and ask yourself, “What can I offer in this moment? How can my words, thoughts, or actions help to build a better world?”
Every night before bed, write in your Elul journal three moments when you offered or shared or contributed something positive to the world: things that you did well today, or 3 positive qualities that you expressed in some way today, or 3 things you appreciate about yourself today.
At least once a day, pause to appreciate someone else’s embodiment of their gifts, what makes them uniquely them. You can do this silently in your mind, or if appropriate, tell the person what you appreciate about them.
Take a few minutes every day to drop the endless self-improvement project, to just be you, and to set an intention to offer your you-ness to the world.
This song draws from Psalm 118, melody composed by Malkhut’s own Shara Feldman.
אֶבֶן, מָאֲסוּ הַבּוֹנִים-- הָיְתָה, לְרֹאשׁ פִּנָּה. מֵאֵת יְהוָה, הָיְתָה זֹּאת; הִיא נִפְלָאת בְּעֵינֵינוּ.
Evven ma’asu habonim haiytah lerosh pinah
Me’et Hashem haiytah zot Hi niflat be'eineinu
“A stone cast away by builders became a cornerstone/This is from YHVH/It is wondrous in our eyes.” These words are about offering even our pain and difficulty to the repair of the world. What we might initially view as unworthy may have great wisdom and value to offer. As you sing or listen to this song, you might offer these words as a blessing to anyone in your life or the world who needs to hear this message, perhaps yourself.