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Elul 5781: Dialing In To The Holidays

08/31/2020 09:18:00 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

It was during this time – the weeks preceding the High Holy Days – that Moses ascended Mt Sinai for a second forty-day period. He came back down on Yom Kippur.

What was he doing up there for so long? He was atoning on our behalf for worshiping the Golden Calf.

But wait! Were we not the sinners? Was repentance not our obligation? Yes, it was. But Moses was our leader and he was close to God; it was necessary for him to intercede with God for us.

And we had our work of teshuva to do as well. We accomplished this in several ways, including by engaging in our next communal project: the building of the Tabernacle.

First we put our hearts into the creation of the golden idol; that was bad. Then we put our hearts into fashioning the Tabernacle; that was good.

Each of those things – idol and Tabernacle – represented the divine. Yes, one was a very inaccurate and dangerous representation, but even the Golden Calf represented our desire to draw near to God.

Such is our existential state right now. During this month of Elul, we anticipate the High Holy Days with a great and awesome desire to feel God’s presence.

The whole notion of “presence” during the pandemic is in flux. But we will be together! We will dwell together in a virtual sanctuary, and God, we pray, will dwell with us.

I will feel a great lack. It is hard to conceive of the High Holy Days without our seeing each other. I wish we could see each other in person. Regardless, we will dial into our services with sincere hearts –united as one in a spirit of teshuva.


Rabbi Jeffrey Weill

Tue, August 3 2021 25 Av 5781