After more than a week of power outages, lack of internet and wifi, and flooding followed by subsequent mildew, I can get back to a few posts. Getting upgraded to this year’s MS OFFICE package also was a setback.
What happened to Elul as a time when one has fear of heaven that one is going to gehena if one does not do penance? Were did the primal fear of God that the rabbis of earlier generations had? Do people today believe or not believe that this month is a time to appeal to God for mercy?
What happened to using the month for pious practices of solitude, taanis dibbur, fasting? We have recorded from many sources and I used to know rabbis who took on a vow of a self-imposed silence of no talking for the month. How come I wont run into anyone in the neighborhood who wont be speaking this month. What role model are these rabbis setting? The last time I saw it seriously practiced was by Rav Naftali, the assistant to rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Netzach Yisrael. He practiced it and encouraged many who studied there to follow suit by only speaking Torah in chevruta and nothing else.
Maybe it is just due to my isolation in East Coast modern communities? Where are they still practiced?
It is important to note that the Shelah was the cornerstone of Eastern European Judaism. The Shelah was the Rav Soloveitchik or Rav Kook for 200 years with many popular kitzur hashelah created. Anyone going back to the tradition? How can we lose the entire character of this time in the Jewish calendar?
The Shelah relaying on the Safed pietistic literature defines teshuvah as
S – sak -sackcloth
U ve-epher- ashes
V- vechiah crying – penthos
H- Hesped – eulogy and recognizing mortality.
Anyone for ashes, sackcloth, and crying? And if you think we cannot do these anymore, then why not? ANd what do you replace them with?
This period was a time for Tikkun Hamiddot- Jews worked on their character and virtues. They fought pride, practiced self-effacement, and limited their eating if they were not fasting.
Here is one tekhinah, that I found on the web, written for Rosh Chodesh Elul by Sarah bat Tovim:
With lovingkindness and great mercy, I entreat You to do with me; accept my petition….I pray that You may accept my tears as You did those of the angels who wept when Abraham, our father, bound his dear son; but the tears of the angels fell on Abraham’s knife, and he could not slay Isaac [Genesis 22]. So may my tears before You prevent me, my husband, my children, and good friends from being taken from this world….’All gates are closed, but the gate of tears is not closed.’ Merciful Father, accept my tears….wash away our sins with the tears and look on us, with mercy, rather than with justice. Amen.
Other pietistic practices to think about:
Some Breslover Chassidim travel to Meron on Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul in order to recite the Yom Kippur Katan prayers beside the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Rebbe Nachman encouraged his followers to recite the Tikkunei Zohar. Reb Noson praises the custom of reading the entire TaNaKH during the days of Elul and Tishrei, finishing on Hoshanah Rabbah.
If we create a tikkun for web use should it be the avoidance of social networking or should it be a specific way to use the web in a way of awe?