Sunday, September 13, 2009

After S'lichot

Last night I attended a beautiful S'lichot service. If the blowing of the shofar during the month of Elul has not yet prepared us for the High Holy Days, S'lichot, which occurs on the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah, is meant to give us a good shove in the right direction.

The High Holy Days, also known as the Days of Awe, are usually my favorite time of the year. I enjoy the majesty of the services, the music, the drawing together of Jews all over the world. For me, it is normally a time of forgiveness, in which I strive to forgive myself and others. It is a time of renewal and a time for hope.

Somehow, this year is different.

Although I rarely have nightmares, last night I dreamt of torture. Not torture for the sake of eliciting information, but torture with the goal of keeping the vicitms alive so they could suffer as much and as long as possible.

Then I dreamt I was with friends on an island utterly unfamiliar to me. I joyfully explored the island, until I turned to look for my friends and found they were departing on the last transportation out, leaving me alone, lost, confused.

Why are my thoughts turning to these images at this time of year? Is it because, as we approach the day when our names will be written in the Book of Life or the Book of Death for the coming year, I reflect on this past year, when for the first time in a long, long time, people I know have died? Is it because I see the rise of anti-semitism in Europe and elsewhere, and it frightens me? Is it because I see the Jewish people fighting amongst ourselves about Israel and about which Jewish denominations are superior to the others, and I know it's this kind of in-fighting that contributed to the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem?

To what extent is my inaction responsible for the things that are troubling me? Perhaps this year I need to seek forgiveness not for the things I have done, but for the things I have not done.


  1. I really enjoy your writting.

    I know very little about your religion. That is I know the basics, in theory, but your blog gives a very sincere and very "human" view of it that I have never found elsewhere.

    To come back to your questions, I find that nightmares are generally more a reflections of conflict within ourselves rather than a reaction to what's going on around us.

    Look up Torture at might be interesting ;o)

  2. Thanks for the kind thoughts, and for the reference to the web site. It says dreams about torture could mean I'm beating myself up about something - I'm thinking that'd be like about stuff I could have done in the past year and didn't. I wonder what it'd be like to go into the High Holy Days this year knowing I wasn't perfect, but thinking I did relatively well this year.

  3. Nobody is perfect.

    Life isn't about perfection, but about persistence in our drive to better ourselves.

    I'm not that wise, I heard that somewhere LOL

  4. I think you are that wise. You know good advice when you see it.