September 12, 2014 • 17 Elul 5774

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Elul Reflections

Elul 17/September 12

When Moses encounters God for the first time, God immediately commands Moses to take his shoes off because Moses is on "holy ground."
What might be a connection between bare feet and holy ground?
I like to think that God's command reminds all of us of unnecessary barriers. Just as Moses' feet needed to feel the ground, we need to feel the pains and joys of others, increasing our empathy and caring for one another.
Often times, we may encounter holiness but our senses are not attuned enough to feel the sacredness of the moment. During Elul, let us metaphorically take our shoes off ... we are standing on holy ground.

Elul 18/September 13

Today is my 40th birthday, though I am rarely one to focus on my age. How many trips I have taken around the sun has never been a number that deserves my attention. People have told me that how we feel, or how we act (which would lower my number significantly) is more important than the number. After all, it is not like last night as the clock moved from 11:59 to 12:00 I magically aged exactly one year. I have gradually been moving toward 40, month by month, day by day, second by second. Perhaps this is why age as a number is rarely something that I consider.
It is better to think of aging not by numbers but by connections. In my time here I have experienced great joy and terrible loss. All of these moments are because of how significant other people are to me. My parents, grandparents, wife, and children have been and remain some of the most important people in my life. Other relatives, friends, and colleagues keep me laughing, crying, and holding on to precious moments, good and bad. Congregants and students who need me in a particular role keep me strong and make every day an adventure.
So as a birthday gift to me, please reach out to someone and tell them how they have made your time matter. Tell them what their connection means to you and do what you can to keep it strong.

See earlier Elul Reflections here.

This year’s Elul Reflections were assembled by:
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, TX
Rabbi Bradley Levenberg, Temple Sinai, Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Eric Linder, Congregation Children of Israel, Athens, GA
Rabbi Alan E. Litwak, Temple Sinai, North Miami Beach, FL
Rabbi Daniel Treiser, Temple B’nai Israel, Clearwater, FL
Rabbi David N. Young, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA

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