A Message from Cantor Shermet for Elul
In The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade wrote: “For Judaism, time has a beginning and will have an end. The idea of cyclic time is left behind. [Yahweh] no longer manifests himself in ‘cosmic’ time (like the gods of other religions) but in a ‘historical time’, which is irreversible.” To me this illustrates Judaism as a faith with fixed markers. Elul is one such marker; during this month we prepare ourselves for the hard work of forgiveness and real repentance. It is so hard to say and mean that we are sorry. It is even harder to accept someone else’s apology. And it is hardest to forgive oneself.
The month of Elul is an excellent time to take stock of the year that has gone, with all its own markers of good and bad. We are b’tzelem Elohim, made in God’s image. If Abraham and Moses could argue with God and ask God to “re-think” certain actions, if God could promise never to again bring a flood upon the entire earth, why do we expect ourselves and others to be infallible? We cannot change past actions nor can our friends and family. We can expect and work toward being better humans. Let’s all start with this, in this month.
–Cantor Wendy Shermet