I treasure the late summer, just before the Jewish New Year, as a wonderful time to get out in nature, and I relate it to a Hasidic teaching. “The King is in the Field,” is a parable of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of Chabad Hasidism. He likened Rosh Hashanah and the Awesome Days through Yom Kippur to a time when a king is in the palace and it is very formal act to approach the throne.. But when the king is traveling to the palace anyone can approach him as he travels through the fields.
In the month of Elul, leading up the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it is traditional to blow the shofar daily (except Shabbat). Here Rabbi Sarah Leah Grafstein sounds the ram’s horn in the awesome setting of the Grand Canyon. The shofar calls us to awaken, arise, return to our true nature and mission in life. This is also a time to prepare for the new year by giving tzedakah (charity, righteous giving), mending relationships, remembering the departed, and doing an “accounting of the soul” (cheshbon hanefesh), meaning self-reflection in preparation for the New Year.
It is traditional to read Psalm 27 daily to build our faith and confidence. Here is a wonderful translation by my teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi of blessed memory. And here is a recording of him reading it.
Breath and wind are instrumental in playing the sacred instrument, the Shofar, or ram’s horn (or sometimes an antelope horn) that is blown on Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur as a call to repentance, a spiritual wake-up. The word shofar is from the root of sha-per, to improve. Its hollow nature, open to the life breath of the blower, encourages us to open ourselves to the divine spirit operating through us. (more…)
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi taught a parable of a king on the way to the palace, who can be approached by everyone in the countryside with ease. His expression, “the King is in the field,” characterized the late summer month of Elul prior to the New Year, as a time when it is easier to access our connection to the divine within. Contemporary Torah teacher Gavriel Strauss, suggests that at this time of year we literally go out in nature, to a meadow or field, as a wonderful way to feel that spiritual closeness. Click on the featured photo above to activate the gallery, a photo series scenes at Otter Creek Preserve, Mamaroneck, and Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Pleasantville, New York (the second Egret in Fairfield, Connecticut). Photos by Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan.
Tashlich is a Jewish New Year’s custom that originated in the Middle Ages and is traditionally done on the first day of Rosh Hashanah
From TODAY IS FOREVER
I stroll often in a nearby park —
old trees wildly overgrown,
bushes and flowers blooming all four seasons,
a creek babbling childishly over pebbles,
a small bridge with rough-hewn railings–
this is my little park. (more…)