Elul, the Season of Renewal
Elul, the Hebrew month just prior to Rosh Hashanah, started this year on Friday, August 18th. Each Elul, we have the opportunity to practice cheshbon hanefesh, which translates literally as “soul accounting” and includes self-reflection and personal introspection. It’s useful to see Elul as a lead-up to the ten Days of Awe, the Yamim Nora’im, from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur. That way, we can view this whole forty-day period as one continuous season of renewal.
A teacher once told me that when we take on any new practice, we ought to give ourselves forty days before making any judgments about how we are doing. It takes about forty days to solidify a new habit or practice. So if you are taking on or intensifying your soul accounting practice, be patient and forgiving and allow the practice to take root before judging yourself!
Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia
Senior Director of Collaborative Leadership & Jewish Engagement