Messages for Elul #4

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, September 16, 2022 / 20 Elul 5782

Summary: This year, I am changing the format of Oasis Songs for the month of Elul. Traditionally, this month has been used as spiritual preparation for the Yamim Noraim, our Jewish High Holidays. My intentions for these Elul reflections were to focus on a quote from a notable Jewish figure. This week features a quote from Alan Morinis’ book Every Day, Holy Day. Morinis is one of the leading figures in the contemporary Mussar movement. Mussar, a virtues-based ethical system, has its origins in the Middle Ages, but became formalized in the 19th century under the leadership of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. In our 21st century, this approach to ethical behavior has melded with key aspects of the mindfulness movement.

Reading Time: One minute

“Silence of the lips means not speaking. In contemplative silence, even the inner dialogue is stilled.…The tongue is the pen of the heart and to be silent demonstrates a high level of self-mastery. To be inwardly still, however, is to abide in a suspended state of receptive reverence.” -Alan Morinis

During past eras, some groups undertook a practice of not speaking for the entire month of Elul. They found this productive preparation for the High Holidays. In silence, we discover that our internal voices are constantly arguing, judging ourselves and others, and closing us off to life itself. Without silence, these voices become background noise, guiding our lives without our awareness of the hold they have upon us. This is why silence and meditation are hard for many, because early in practice, people discover that they have not been in charge of their lives; instead, those voices have. That can be quite disturbing, but it also opens the possibility for transformative teshuvah. For the next ten days, consider spending ten minutes each day in silence, and observe what arises without judgement or defense.

Shabbat shalom,

Rav D

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