How Aragorn and an Undead Army from Lord of the Rings Helped Me Prepare for Rosh Hashana

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How Blowing the Shofar Can Blow Your Mind and Awaken Your True Self

Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name), was a mystic and spiritual teacher who lived in the 18th century Eastern Europe and founded the Hasidic movement in Judaism. According to Hasidic teachings, a Jewish spiritual practice is a mitzvah, an opportunity for the soul to connect to the Divine. Rosh Hashanah is associated with the mitzvah of sounding the Shofar (traditionally a ram’s horn) to wake the soul from its spiritual slumber and during Elul (the month preceding Rosh Hashanah). It is customary to sound the Shofar every day during morning prayers to prepare for the Jewish New Year. Continue reading “How Blowing the Shofar Can Blow Your Mind and Awaken Your True Self”

This Elul, Make God Your Lover

We are in the Hebrew month of Elul, approaching the Days of Awe, and there is a concept  I think it’s important to think about while teshuvah has become a central focus of Jewish life. During Elul one of the dominant themes is that the King is in the field. The Bal Shem Tov teaches the sound of the shofar is the sound of the prince crying out for his father the King. On Rosh Hashana we crown Hashem as King of all creation. These metaphors  allow us to talk about the process of teshuvah. The process of turning away from evil and choosing good. Of choosing life. Of returning to our true selves. Of returning to God.  But there is a metaphor here (and it’s good to say any time that we are talking about God we are talking in metaphor because God is beyond any concept) that is not used as often which is that of God* as lover. Continue reading “This Elul, Make God Your Lover”