Before we turn our attention to the month of Tishrei, I’d first like to share a gift from my heart. I’ve created a free, online Yizkor meditation for those who would like to connect more deeply with the memory of departed loved ones. Over the years, people have expressed to me a desire to move beyond the Yizkor service. They have said that sometimes it feels like a rote, fill-in-the blank, recitation of the names of loved ones who have passed, coupled with a plea for money. The service, however, contains much more. It’s a plea for redemption for the living as well as those who have departed this earth. The pledge of charity becomes a bonded action to take in the New Year, when the grief of loss lingers and can be daunting.
I developed this meditation in response to the heart-wrenching void of separation. In it is the invitation to experience a brief “visit” with loved ones whom death has taken from us. With reverence, we ask them to meet us, in essence, in the space between here and there. You can visualize them as they were in perfect health and well-being. Inviting all of the senses, you’re gently guided to recall the flecks of color in their eyes, the sound of their laughter, the scents associated with them, etc. You have the opportunity to speak any unspoken words and then quiet yourself to listen to what you imagine that they might offer in return.
In the privacy of your home, you can cry, smile, experience a range of emotions and move through to cleansing, ready to embrace the New Year and the renewed path ahead. Here’s the link that will take you to a sign-up to receive the meditation by email: bit.ly/yizkor-meditation.
We remember our loved ones and we must live in such a way as to honor them. Vulnerability always accompanies the unknown. It is the theme of Tishrei. Breathe through your vulnerable feelings as we acknowledge Rosh Chodesh Tishrei, which began on Sun., Sept. 9, at sundown. Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei. There is no blessing for this Rosh Chodesh because Hashem blesses Tishrei on the last Shabbat of Elul.
Beginning with the contemplation of Rosh Hashanah, literally the “head of the year,” we examine our words and actions over the past year and turn from our shadow selves. We step into the light of wisdom, knowledge and learning. On Yom Kippur, as we ask for forgiveness from G-d and our fellow human beings, we experience cleansing and compassion for ourselves and each other. Sukkot brings vulnerability and connects us, at our core, to Mother Nature and her rhythms. During Simchat Torah, we raise our voices in song and celebration as we complete the annual cycle of Torah readings and begin again.
According to the Book of Formation, there are senses and organs of the body that influence us with the changing of the months. Touch is the sense of Tishrei. We hug each other as a physical expression and also touch each other in a more ethereal way, with our words. Words can wound or heal. Have you ever read a quote that instantly changed you?
The ruling organ of Tishrei is the gallbladder, which stores and excretes bile. Bile translates to bitterness, or poison, that we need to expel by forgiving, connecting and clearing ourselves to begin anew.
As we live in our vulnerable dwellings during Sukkot, we literally ground ourselves to the earth, reconnect to our souls, reach out to join with others, and realign with Hashem. The goal is to live mindfully once we go back inside, where we are comfortable. We must ward against falling into complacency through the task of conscious living inside and outside of our homes.
Meditation Focus: Scan the times this past year in which you felt vulnerable. Were they because of a new situation or life passage? Did you marry, lose a loved one, deal with illness, aging, give birth, move or experience loneliness? Feeling vulnerable often heralds change. Reconnect to G-d and community and know that you’re not alone. ■