Elul 5767 Workshop

with Jeanette Gross

Temple Beth Abraham Sisterhood

August 12, 2007

The month of Elul is a time of preparation - a spiritual 'warm-up' before we reach the Days of Awe. Having a period of intense introspection allows us the opportunity to learn and practice Teshuva - the art of return.  We work towards returning to that Divine spark deep inside us... examining our path of the year just ending, clearing the way to move forward into the new year with a clean slate.... getting a fresh start no matter where our path has taken us before....

Rabbi Alissa Forrest  says, "During this season of Teshuvah, repentance or "returning", we are asked to evaluate our lives. We look internally at who we have been and eternally to who we want to become."

Rabbi Shefa Gold says "The process of Tshuvah requires a loosening of the grip of the ego, a dissolving of rigid patterns of personality, a surrendering of the small self into the larger possibilities that are calling. When we begin to do this work of Tshuvah, it can feel as if we're falling apart, entering the Void, stepping off into the abyss. And that's when old patterns begin to reassert themselves and we find ourselves back in the same comfortable familiar suffering. And every year we do the same Tshuvah, and then slide back into the personality patterns that have held us together for so long. We can make Tshuvah a truly profound transformation only by entering into the unknown, by letting go of the surface identity, by leaping into the abyss where you don't yet know who you are becoming. "

A practice that can help us to take that kind of a leap is the art of chanting sacred phrases. Chant is a way of focusing on the core meaning of a prayer or piece of text that allows us to enter more fully into the kavannah, the holy intention, of the phrase. By using a simple melody and repeating the sacred phrase over and over, we are able to open our hearts to its blessing, to step inside of the prayer itself and take on its deeper meaning in a way that is hard to do with just a quick reading or a song.

The repetition itself becomes a meditation. In raising our voices together we synchronize our breathing which, combined with pouring ourselves into the chant, can be a powerful tool in opening the heart and mind. In the silence after the chant we might find ourselves opening even more fully to the prayer, and I like to use this silence as a way of soaking in the effects of the practice. Through sacred chant we are sometimes able to 'surrender the small self" as Rabbi Gold suggests. We can use that surrender as an opportunity to do the difficult work of Teshuva, of return.

Rabbi Roberto Graetz teaches "....we are entering a special month.  This is a time to repair and to prepare. I cannot throw myself into the specific "tasks" of the High Holy Days until I have delved into the content of my life, my relationships - family and friends, my obligations - community and society, my faith - in God and in our people's ability to survive and thrive.

You can use these chants on your own during the month of Elul to help you to prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; ready to enter the gates and be sealed for a sweet new year.

 

 

AniLDodi 

(click to play)

         Click here for a Teaching

 

AdonaiOri

(click to play)

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PtochLibi

(click to play)

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"Zeh hayom asah Adonai, nagilah v'nismecha vo - THIS is the day that God has made, let us celebrate and rejoice in it" (Psalm 118:24)

(click to play)

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"Pitku li sha-arei tzedek, avo vam odeh Yah - Open for me the gates of righteousness, I will enter and thank God. (Liturgy)

             Pitku Li was not chanted due to time limitations.  

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"Hashiveynu Elecha v'nashuva - Let us turn to you Shechinah, Let us turn to You and we will be turned." (Liturgy, adapted)

(click to play)

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"Aneini b'emet yishecha - Answer me with Your liberating truth" (Liturgy)

                   Aneini B'Emet was not chanted due to time limitations.  

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"Hayom im b'chol lo tishma-u - Today, if you will only hear God's voice." (Liturgy)

Hayom was not chanted due to time limitations.  

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"Anaynu v'yom kor-aynu - Answer us on the day we call You." (Psalms 20:10)

(click to play)

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"Anachnu v'yadcha - we are in Your hand." (High Holy Days liturgy)

(click to play)

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"Zochreinu l'chayyim tovim - Remember us for a good life" (Liturgy)

(click to play)

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"Ivru, ivru ba'sh'arim, panu derech ha-am - Go through, go through the gates, clear the way of the people" (Isaiah 62:10)

(click to play)

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"Ana El Na R'fanala - Please God, please heal her." (Numbers 12:13: Moses pleads with God for Miriam's healing.)

(click to play)

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*Note: To download an mp3 recording - right click on its title - (or control-click on a mac) and save the linked file.

 

 

 

(Recorded at Elul Workshop for Temple Beth Abraham Sisterhood, Oakland, California. August 12, 2007)

(Unless otherwise indicated, melodies are by Jeanette Gross)

 

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