We are in the midst of Elul, the Hebrew lunar month preceding Rosh Hashanah. Taking some time to prepare for the Days of Awe ahead can make our experience more meaningful and transformative. It’s a time for Heshbon HaNefesh, accounting of the soul. This personal stock-taking is a springboard for self-improvement and growth. You might ask yourself, journal, or discuss with a friend how you are doing in relationship to yourself, to your loved ones, community, and the larger world. A more modern version of this practice can be found with 10Q, an online program that sends you questions each day during the High Holiday season, then seals your answers away until next year when you can reread them and see how you have grown or changed.

There are also many seasonal customs offered by tradition, including making amends with people we may have wronged, sending Shanah Tovah greetings, giving extra tzedakah, Selichot services (many synagogues will hold late at night on September 9), reading Psalm 27 daily for confidence, and more. This is a traditional time to visit the graves of departed loved ones (or if that’s not available, taking time to remember them and do a mitzvah in their honor).

From the Nature Rabbi point of view, now is a great time to get “out into the field” to connect with the divinity and vitaility of life as the seasons turn.

It’s also traditional to hear the Shofar each weekday during the month of Elul, except the day before Rosh Hashanah (got to keep it fresh!). If you don’t have a shofar at home, you can use this recording that I made:

Another custom of this time is to begin wishing everyone a Shanah Tovah and that we may all be written and inscribed for a good year ahead! Sending that blessing to all of you!