Preparing for Elul

Well, it’s Elul.

Time flies whether you’re having fun or not. As we all know Elul is a time of preparation. They say the devil’s in the details but so are the angels. So how should we be preparing?

I have focused on this question in different ways over the years. This year I want to focus on one aspect of our Elul preparation.

We start blowing the shofar every morning at the end of davening. Sefardim also start getting up early to say selichos. We Ashkenazim wait until the Saturday night before Rosh Hashana. In fact this year is the shortest amount of selichos we can say – 4 days. One year before Pesach I was complaining to a Sefardi friend of mine how I was jealous that he could eat kitniyos on Pesach. He said “Don’t be jealous – because of those rice and beans I have to say selichos for a whole month!” Everything is a tradeoff as my father used to say.

Anyway, we at least blow shofar. There are a lot of reasons for this but again I want to focus on one point. The Rambam writes that the shofar has the power to wake sleepers from their slumber. The message is this is the time of year when we have to wake up. Because most of the year we’re sleeping.

Think about it. We’ll talk more about this in the days to come but how many of us go through life asleep – oblivious to relationships, obligations and the pursuit of meaning. People literally and figuratively sleep their life away. That’s because people who are depressed sleep most of the day. People who are excited and alive don’t want to go to sleep. They are afraid they’ll miss something. Little children HATE going to sleep, because at that age all of life is an adventure. Who knew how exciting it could be to spin around until you are so dizzy you can’t stand?

It’s time for us to wake up and start living the life we want. Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note. All you have is today – SPEND IT!