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When Do We Do the Inner Work?

09/03/2023 10:21:33 PM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin

D’var Torah for Selichot Services, 5783/2023

Selichot services take place on Saturday night and we hear again the plaintive haunting melodies and prayers of the High Holidays….(links to Youtube melodies that we’ve used at Adath Shalom)

Avinu Malkeinu- Our Parent, our Ruler, show us grace and answer us, for we have no deeds to plead on our behalf- 

Hashiveinu- Return us to you and we shall return- renew our days as when we were young-

Ashamnu, Bagadnu- the alphabetical confession of faults, shortcomings and sins-

Adonai, Adonai- the thirteen Divine attributes of love and forgiveness

And maybe the one that sums it all up:

Zochreinu  L’Chaim- Remember us for life, Monarch who desires life and write us in the Book of Life-

Each of these prayerful moments have the power to lift us to places of self-reflection, memory both sweet and bitter and even regret.  We are called upon to revisit those times that we lived up to the best and the worst in us, to repent, resolve, surmount and move on and up.

But here’s a simple question: if we’re praying, when do we do the repenting?   It’s not as if there’s tons of time on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur.  When we’re not actually in shul, we’re preparing, dining, organizing and maybe even taking a well-deserved rest.  

So, if there’s going to be time for soul searching, it has to be during the time spent in shul.  But when exactly?

Rabbi Allen, at last week’s Elevate, Making the High Holidays Matter Zoom discussion, made a bold suggestion: “maybe the services are so long and there’s repetition built into the liturgy for exactly this: to give you time to tune out a bit of what’s going on around you and tune into what’s going on within you.  Don’t worry if you don’t participate for a while- the prayers and melodies will still be there when you come back!”

The takeaway?  Stick around!  Join the experience, withdraw into your own private, personal sanctuary and then come back and join again- in the words of singer Neshama Carlebach:

Return again, return again

Return to the Land of your soul

Return to who you are, return to what you are,

Return to where you are born and reborn again-

May the New Year’s Journey of Teshuva, of Return, be infused with renewal and blessing!  

Shana Tova!


Update this content.

Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784