Tishrei: Finding Our Spiritual Balance

Photo (c) Pink Sherbet Photography.  Used via creative commons attribution copyright permissions.
Photo (c) D Sharon Pruit. Used via Creative Commons Copyright.

~ Excerpt from Rosh Chodesh Guide for Tishrei.  Like what you see?  Subscribe! ~

Tishrei is the head of our spiritual year.  It is one of the four Jewish New Years, but over the generations it has become the Jewish New Year. According to the Talmud it is the new year of Kings.  Like so many things in Judaism, Tishrei has layers within layers and microcosms within microcosms to explore.

This month is a challenging one for some many reasons. The number of holidays alone presents a challenge to our organizational skills. But in the modern world the number of holidays so close together also presents a challenge to our ability balance home, work, and our spiritual worlds. The sign of the month, the scales, I think is not only related to the concept of Divine judgment between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but also asking us to weigh what we value in the world.

Starting this month, I’ll be adding three new elements to the “basics” section of the Rosh Chodesh guides for 5770:

  • Season,
  • Sense,
  • and Spiritual Focus.

Season is self-explanatory, but I am including because I don’t know where in the world you are. While it is autumn for me right now — it may be spring for you.  My worldview is based as much on my geographical location in the as anything else.

Sense is another traditional correspondence from kabbalistic practice. Inner.org is my standard source for this correspondence. As a practitioner of embodied Judaism, it only seems nature to add this physical aspect to the monthly list of correspondences I share.

Spiritual focus is not a traditional element. It is a new concept I’ve been exploring for some time and have decided to share with others this year. A while back I defined my mission as:

Helping others experience the best life possible by connecting fully with the Divine presence (fire), the resources they consume (earth), personal expression (water), and communal ritual experience (air).

I believe these four focal areas are the basis of a healthy, embodied, sustainable, and sustaining spiritual practice. I also believe they are the root areas that any religion is based on, Judaism included. As you can see I have also associated an element with each of these areas. As the wheel of the year turns our relationship with these areas changes. Tishrei, in this system, asks us to focus on our relationship to Communal Resources or Community as experienced through Resources. Your initial reaction to this may be, “no…I think it’s something else.” That’s okay!

I think Tishrei is a microcosm of the entire year with the four major holidays. Each holiday can easily take us through one of the spiritual focus areas. Tishrei is always 30 days in length, so like the scales it is always a perfectly balanced month if we allow it to be.

Consider, if you will, that the harvest is a communal experience, as are the High Holidays. Tickets for high holidays often ensure the survival of a congregation. Building a sukkah, is best done in community. And on Yom Kippur, while it is is a private experience in many ways, is experienced in a communal setting. It is a time of year that we are so conscious of our relationship to community. Do you have to think about where you are attending high holidays?

“Save, please, human and animal, flesh and spirit and soul, sinew and bone and muscle, image and likeness and body, this glory like a passing breath, and renew the face of the earth…” —from the Sukkot liturgy (telshemesh.org)

So as we move into a month of personal and communal prayer, I invite you to join me on a renewed exploration of our spiritual practice as experienced through the wheel of the year. “The word Tishrei derives from the Akkadian (Tashritu) or from the Aramatic “sherei” meaning ” to begin.”” (JHOM.com) So begin again with me and renew your spiritual life and communal practice. In this month where we put formal Rosh Chodesh observance aside in favor of Rosh Hashanah services, let us begin again.

L’shanah Tova. May you have a sweet and wonderful new year.

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[tags]judaism, jewish, tishrei, high holidays, rosh hashanah, spiritual practice[/tags]