This learning is in the merit of Eliyahu Shmuel ben Tzipporah for a refuah shlema

Tomorrow: Noun. “A mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored”.

Think about it.

How often do you procrastinate?

You’re tired, you’re busy, you’ll do it later…it can be so easy to push off the important things in life.

Today is Rosh Chodesh Elul – the first day of the last month of the year. Beginning this month, we hear the shofar daily to wake us up and remind us that Rosh Hashanah is one month away!

A month may seem like a long time, but when an important event is coming, we definitely want to prepare in advance.

As Rabbi Mark Wildes points out, “There are special events that transform the trajectory of our lives. It could be an interview for that job we’ve always wanted or a romantic evening when we finally propose to that special someone. These occasions alter our life path in profound ways, which is why we don’t just show up and see what happens. We dedicate time to prepare…We don’t just appear on scene without a plan. Yet year after year, we show up on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and expect to be swept away by the magic of the moment. We have, however, been given a time period to prepare for the High Holidays…beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul”. 

So what can we do to plan in advance, and to get the most out of our holiday experience?

There are many ways that we can prepare. Here are a few good options:

  • Learn more about the High Holidays to infuse your experience with more depth and meaning. Pick up an interesting book or check out a class. (Hint: JET offers regular classes). There are also many recorded classes and podcasts available on demand. You can “grow on the go”, while on a walk or driving to work. 
  • Do a Cheshbon HaNefesh – a spiritual accounting. Just like we look over our finances at least once a year, it is important to take an honest look at our spiritual state. Practically speaking, this means examining relationships in 3 key areas:
    • My relationship with myself
    • My relationship with G-d
    • My relationships with others (You may want to narrow this one down by focusing on the key relationships in your life)

Try reflecting or journaling about what is going well, and what needs improvement.   Then make a plan to work on it. 

  • Set a new goal and begin to work towards it. It can be something small – like getting in a ten-minute walk every lunch hour, learning five minutes of Torah a day, or making a regular phone call to someone that you know needs a boost. In addition to the benefit of working on the goal, you will remind yourself that you are capable of growth, and that we have a special gift that allows us to keep growing and changing: free will. 

In the month of Elul, our sages say “The King is in the field”, meaning that G-d’s closeness to us is even stronger than usual. (A king is normally in the palace; if he is out in the field, he is more accessible to the whole kingdom). We not only have the opportunity to work on our personal growth; we actually have extra spiritual support right now to do it! 

Even a little preparation can make a big difference. 

Is there something you know you would like to work on? Take the first step right now.

Rosh Hashanah will be here before you know it. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Danielle Altonaga