by Leah Robbins, Administrative and Marketing Assistant
I don’t know about you, but Elul has me totally out of sorts. This is supposed to be a deeply reflective moment in time, a month to really sit with our struggles, reevaluate our behavior, renegotiate our values, and renew our commitments.
There’s so much I’m itching to stop and think about. The existential questions that come with preparing physically and spiritually for t’shuvah (repentance, return) are mounting, and the precious time required for that kind of soul work is slipping away. Which of my relationships could use a little nurturing? Who in my life could use an apology? Where have I faltered in living my truths, staying true to my convictions? For whom can I show up better next time?
We learn that the month of Elul is about asking the hard stuff, and more importantly, confronting the hard answers. But who has the time? Between booking immersions, populating our education programs, recruiting new Mikveh Guide trainees, my local social justice involvement, studying for the GRE, trying to be a loving partner, friend, relative, (thinking about, but never actually) exercising, where and how can I drown out the noise of the Mondays and hone in on the responsibility of cheshbon hanefesh (an accounting of the soul)?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix, no shiny, red “STOP” button on the chaos. How fortunate we are, though, that Jewish tradition anticipates the challenges of the ticking clock, the monotony of the work week, the back-to-school madness. Ritual immersion was built into the blueprint of our spiritual repertoire for this very reason: to pull us, often by our kicking feet, under the living waters, and into a place of stillness – to force us, against the demands of all else, to bring our full bodies into sacred space and ask: What will I let wash away? Who will I leave behind in the water? Who will I be when I emerge?
As the High Holidays approach, and the to-do lists get longer, I invite you not only to take the time, but make the time. Don’t just get ready, feel ready. The mikveh is calling. How will you answer?
Leah Robbins is the Administrative and Marketing Assistant at Mayyim Hayyim. This High Holiday season, she’s looking forward to a trip home to Florida, repairing a few relationships, and her mother’s brisket.