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Finding Forgiveness Now

09/15/2019 06:00:49 AM


Rabbi Scott Nagel

Elul 15 Sept: Week Three

Finding Forgiveness Now

Task: Come to our community Selichot Service, Sat. Sept. 21.


With one week left in the month of Elul, there is a marked increase in the urgency for preparation and the need for repentance. This week, on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, we will recite prayers for forgiveness called Selichot (pronounced “S'lee-KHOHT”) in order to make sure we as individuals are ready for the New Year. At this service we will also dress our Torah Scrolls in white for the High Holy Day Season, symbolically bringing our community to a state of purity and readiness for what is to come.


If we have been doing our personal reflection in the month of Elul (and even if we have not), the approach of Rosh Hashanah makes us acutely aware of our own failings and faults. After all, in less than one week we will stand before God. If we are tuned in to this reality, we can’t help but feel urgent and desperate now.


On Selichot we make our first of many confessions this season. We open our hearts. We acknowledge the futility of our actions. We list our shortcomings. Most importantly we do this together as a community because the first confession is the hardest and most jarring. Most of us are much more comfortable listing our successes then our failures. We can take this step on Selichot precisely because we come together as a community. In this way we realize that this whole Teshuvah process doesn’t only rely on the work of our small individual selves, rather, this work of Teshuvah connects us to something larger and more profound than the self. This is real. This is inescapable. We gather together to help each other come to the realizations that we are human, we are flawed, and we can do better. We have nothing to offer but each other, the sadness of our hearts, and our hopes for a better tomorrow. This is enough for us to find forgiveness. This is how we find Selichot.


There is a poem entitled Ahot Ketana – Little Sister (a phrase taken from Song of Songs referring to the Jewish People) by Rabbi Abraham Hazan of Gerona written as a plea that the New Year be a turning point for the fate of the community. The refrain at the end of every stanza cries out, “Bring an end to the year and its curses!” yet the poem ends with the sentiment, “Begin the year and its blessings!” This is THE week to make these exclamations as we enter our final preparations for Rosh Hashanah.


Please join us for our Selichot Service, Saturday September 21, 2019 at 6:15 PM followed by a dessert reception and study.


Shanah Tovah,


Rabbi Scott Nagel

Mon, July 13 2020 21 Tammuz 5780