In this profound season of introspection we are called to see through the eyes of G-d. In preparation, we hear “Judges and officers you shall appoint for yourselves in all your gates.” (Parshat Shoftim). This may be taken to mean to be ever mindful at the seven gates of the soul – the eyes, the ears, the nostrils. May we be mindful, absorbing whatever enters in long contemplative silence and stillness, both watching the reactive impulses of the small self and abandoning our subservience to these habit patterns only to embrace whatever pain and sorrow that arrives with mercy, treating each direct experience as our most honored guest, breaking in new light out of the darkness.
Rabbi Yael offers the following reflection, compassionately inviting us to step out of our small way of seeing ourselves and others, into the unbearable compassion of G-d that ushers in the dawn of our becoming.
“We humans are so quick to judge
Ourselves and each other.
There are, of course,
Times when our judgments are sound,
And, as we know,
Our judgments can be harsh,
Shaming and cruel.
We so often berate ourselves for our perceived shortcomings.
We belittle our efforts.
We criticize our questions, vulnerabilities and fears.
And we do this to those we love as well,
Allowing harsh judgments to invade
The spaces between us.
And our harsh judgments run wild
As we look
Toward people with whom we deeply disagree.
All these harsh critical, berating judgments
Add to the pain within and around us
And yet, they persist.
As Elul shines its light
It calls us to notice judgments as they arise.
The small and the massive,
And each time we do,
To take three deep breaths around the judgments.
Rather than attacking the judgments head on
Or trying to figure out what to do with them,
Three deep breaths into the expanse of Elul
Creating some softness and space around the judgments.
Three deep breaths
To make way for discernment and compassion
To find and lift us.
A mighty task,
A deep practice we engage in
For the sake of each other and all life.
Three deep breaths.
May Elul turn us with care
To paths of love, connection and peace.”