4 Elul 5777 - Project Elul

Starting with Ourselves 

Though the righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise. – King Solomon (Proverbs 24:16)

In Jewish thinking, a great person isn’t one who never fails; it’s one who fails and keeps trying. You can only become a truly great person through the crucible of failure and perseverance.

4 Elul 5777 In Pirkei Avot, the ethics tractate of the Mishnah, Rabbi Shimon teaches us, “Don’t let your prayer become routine.”  The Baal Shem Tov, too, declared, "Unless we believe that God renews creation every day, our prayers grow habitual and tedious."  How do you understand these quotes?  

3 Elul 5777 - Project Elul

Starting with Ourselves 

Though the righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise. – King Solomon (Proverbs 24:16)

In Jewish thinking, a great person isn’t one who never fails; it’s one who fails and keeps trying. You can only become a truly great person through the crucible of failure and perseverance.

3 Elul 5777 The Jewish Publication Society Tanakh (1917 edition) translates Genesis 2:7 as, 

“Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

What is the significance of this verse for you?  How can you relate God’s breath and your breath to your own self?

2 Elul 5777 - Project Elul

Starting with Ourselves 

Though the righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise. – King Solomon (Proverbs 24:16)

In Jewish thinking, a great person isn’t one who never fails; it’s one who fails and keeps trying. You can only become a truly great person through the crucible of failure and perseverance.

2 Elul 5777 The Latin and hence English root for breath is “spir.”  Let’s look at the words that stem from this root: inspiration, expiration, spirit, respiration, aspiration.  What relationships do you see and feel between the words and the root?  What associations do you find?

1 Elul 5777 - Project Elul

Starting with Ourselves 

Though the righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise. – King Solomon (Proverbs 24:16)

In Jewish thinking, a great person isn’t one who never fails; it’s one who fails and keeps trying. You can only become a truly great person through the crucible of failure and perseverance.

1 Elul 5777 Let’s begin with our breath.  In a quiet space, let’s breathe in and out, in and out slowly.  Perhaps we can inwardly measure our breaths by counting 1- 2- 3- 4, 1- 2- 3- 4- , and so on.  Or we can use the Shema declaration, making each word cover an inhalation and an exhalation.  Let’s sit quietly and do this for a few minutes and see what obtains.  You may want to write down your impressions. 

Project Elul 5777: Preparing to Enter the Gates

Preparing to Enter the GatesAs we enter the contemplative month of Elul, we are offering members and friends of Temple Emanu-el, a devotional manual to guide them through this month, which is traditionally associated with improving our inner lives and giving us new perspectives and behaviors which we can then take into the world.  

Project Elul will be concentrating on forgiveness to prepare us for the High Holy Days.  We will be examining our relationships to ourselves, to others, to our environment, and to God through a series of daily exercises.  There will be one activity for each day of Elul.

You may choose to do as many of the activities as you wish.  Some may wish to do every suggestion while others may do only the ones they find interesting or useful.  Sometimes the seemingly challenging activities are the ones we need to do most.  Perhaps this project is not appealing, and you can just let it pass by like a cloud in the summer sky.  

Some of the activities suggest writing down your reflections.  If writing does not capture your heart and mind, either try your best or let the writing part go.  Some people may prefer to express themselves through art or by making something.  We encourage that as well.  

Project Elul establishes a helpful inner dialogue showing us who we are and who we might become.  You may wish to do Project Elul with a partner or in a small group.  Working with others is perfectly acceptable provided you can maintain a warm, friendly, and non-judgmental atmosphere.  Sharing our inner lives is often illuminating; criticizing someone’s inner journey is not. In any case, you are under no obligation to share your Project Elul with anyone else unless you so desire.  

Richard Brodesky wrote the original text while Senior Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon edited it.  Rabbi Educator Batsheva Appel consulted during the development process, and we are grateful to her for handling all the technical details of publication and distribution.  Finally, your Adult Education Academy Committee reviewed the typescript and incorporated into your educational offerings at Temple.  

If you have questions or problems, please call upon our clergy for guidance.  If something monumental comes up for you during your personal reflections, be sure to reach out to our rabbis.  Don’t ever hesitate to get the help you need!  You may find them just by calling (520) 327-4501.

Address

225 N. Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85716

Phone: 520-327-4501
Fax: 520-327-4504

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