Understanding Selichot

To be honest, I wish I knew how to guide my experience through rabbinical school a little clearer.  I’m finding quickly that this is really the type of place you have to live at for a while before you can feel like ‘ you really get it ‘ . It’s not a scary place … intimidating regularly…. but over all, the whole place is  really filled with a special essence.  Coming from such a medley of Judaism over the last several years, this place is full on in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever really known!   It’s enthralling!

The really exciting piece about rabbinical school  is all the observation I am able do.  Watching the ways that the “older” students davin (pray) or engage in conversation …. or hear the questions they ask – its beyond enlightening.  These people are so real – and their passions and hearts are so extraordinary.

My total faith for Judaism has been restored beyond expectation; the teachers, the students…. brilliant.

That being said….let’s talk about what I view as one of the most intimately daunting moments of our tradition.                                      Selichot.

I love what The Coffee Shop Rabbi says about this day:

First, we are fallible human beings, and it is easy to forget things, especially things we do not want to remember. Going over a list jogs the memory and the heart. Secondly, we approach the High Holy Days both as individuals and as a community, responsible for one another. While I am not responsible for the sins of my neighbor, he and I are responsible for each other’s well-being, and so his sins affect me. Finally, some sins are communal: for instance, we may talk about “the poor” and the need to “love the stranger” but what action have we as a community actually taken? Are we a community who fosters sinful behavior such as gossip? The lists bring up those questions as well.

And just days ago, Rabbi Sharon Brous (of http://www.IkarLA.org) spoke about how our actions are not just directly effecting ourselves, but are greatly impacting our community – saying that the Jewish philosophy of kharama deals with the entire community- not just the individual.

So…with all this being said – Why do we have this holy’day?  What’s really going on here??

That by us acknowledging our shortcomings or transgressions, we are allowing for our community to be a stronger, better, brighter place – there in helping to make this world a better place.

So as we move through this week, preparing for a final Shabbos of 5772, may we find strength and courage in baring our souls in the deepest parts of ourselves  –  and be willing to receive  all the love, mercy and compassion that the Divine has to offer into this new year 5773.

More to come….



2 responses to “Understanding Selichot

  1. Thank you for the mention, Aviva. I particularly like the place you took it: that we strengthen our communities by digging deep within ourselves this week. I look forward to following your blog and your path through AJU. Shana tovah umetukah!

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