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09/01/2022 08:35:56 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Rabbi Nicole Auerbach writes, “There are [certain moments] in which it is possible to feel fear and reverence and awe in one single, combined inner experience.” Imagine standing on the very edge of an immense canyon and looking down into the vast expanse, while also appreciating the magnificent colors and rock striations, and also considering a time hundreds of thousands of years prior when the river on the canyon floor first began to carve out the chasm before you. “Wouldn’t one feel dread at the sheer drop into the yawning abyss, along with astonishment at the spectacular and colorful vista, and also a sense of awe at the divine majesty which permeates our magnificent world?” 

Certain situations or experiences in our lives readily evoke this multi-faceted sense of awe without any personal effort. However, it is also possible to cultivate the capacity to experience awe in our daily lives, not by seeking out the spectacular but by learning to see the spectacular in everything. During the month of Elul, these final weeks and days prior to the start of a New Year provide us an ideal window of time in which to train our hearts and souls to be open to these awesome possibilities.

In his book This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared, Rabbi Alan Lew writes, “We remember that on Rosh Hashanah, we ‘will stand before God.’  What will God see on that day? What will you see or experience?” These days of spiritual preparation are intended to remind us that we can experience a good deal more awe than we ordinarily might, but only to the degree that we are truly awake, only in proportion to the time and energy we devote to our personal spiritual awareness and growth. As the shofar sounds throughout the month of Elul, may it open our hearts to the possibility and experience of awe in our lives. 

Sat, December 10 2022 16 Kislev 5783