Each year as summer fades into fall, Jewish tradition invites us to turn inward. The month of Elul precedes the High Holy Days of The Jewish New Year, also considered the Day of Judgment. The period of the High Holidays is a time of introspection and atonement. The holiday is celebrated with the sounding of the shofar, lengthy prayers in synagogue, the eating of apples and honey, and round challah for a sweet and whole year. Tashlikh, casting bread on the water to symbolize the washing away of sins, also takes place on Rosh Hashana. and The holiest day of the Jewish year and the culmination of a season of self-reflection. Jews fast, abstain from other worldly pleasures, and gather in prayers that last throughout the day. Following Ne’ilah, the final prayers, during which Jews envision the Gates of Repentance closing, the shofar is sounded in one long blast to conclude the holy day. It is customary to begin building one’s sukkah as soon as the day ends.. We dedicate this time to preparing ourselves for the holidays so that we can experience them as fully as possible. During Elul we are asked to look into ourselves. We think about who we are and who we want to be. Whose forgiveness do we need in order for us to enter a new year with a clean slate? Judaism offers help for this period of introspection in several ways: The A ram’s horn that is blown on the High Holidays to “wake us up” and call Jews to repentance. It is also said that its blast will herald the coming of the messiah. sounds daily, awakening us from complacency; later in the month, prayers of repentance—selikhot—are added to the daily liturgy. Perhaps most important, during Elul, we can support each other through the process of requesting and offering forgiveness with full and open hearts.
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