Big holidays always make me nostalgic. Rosh Hashanah in particular recalls what holidays were like in a first-generation American Jewish family, with the old country grandparents still alive, and living close by. The month before the holidays was, like all Jewish holidays, for cleaning. There was always cleaning. But for Rosh Hashanah there were also new clothes and shoes, because heaven forbid we greet the new year in worn clothes. There was baking in preparation for the visits people made to friends and family on the holiday afternoons.
My adult ‘cleaning’ has morphed over the years to a more spiritual searching, a self-examination, taking stock of my year gone, relationships, behavior, activities, and so on. Every year I find the same flaws I found the year before. I think about these and set myself to try again.
Elul can be translated as ‘search.’ I search my heart and mind for the honesty to face myself, again.
Years ago, I watched a “Verbrengen” on television and I think the Rabbi was Schneerson. He was speaking of Shabbat, but it applies here as well. I have never forgotten this. He said the time before an event is the time of total potential; everything is possible. I think this month is full of potential for personal growth if honest self-searching can produce new insights, and a rich and satisfying prayer experience when the time comes for prayer