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Elul Week 2

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The Soul

The soul is the spark within that illumines each of us, our pilot light, if you will.  It is the divine light that shines through us and helps us to bring warmth, light, and compassion to the world around us.

Listen to the full Week 2 practice by clicking on the lotus image. All of the components of this practice are also provided below as text.

 

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“I thank You, living and eternal Power, for returning my soul to me with compassion. Great is Your faithfulness.”

Modeh Ani (m.)
Modah Ani (f.)
“I thank You”

These are the first two words of the prayer Jews recite upon waking, to thank God for restoring their soul.

For this second week of the month of Elul, we will focus on our soul.

Breathing Meditation

As we begin our practice for this week, we invite you to find your comfortable, yet alert, sitting position. As you breathe in and out through your nose, let your breath be calm and fluid. Focus on where you feel the intake of breath, as well as where you feel the exhale of the breath. It may or may not be in the same place. If you wish, you may count to 3 on the inhale, then count to 3 on the exhale. Practice breathing in this manner for 30 seconds.

When you are ready, below are three Elohai N'shama prayers thanking God for your soul. As you continue to breathe calmly and fluidly, focus on each prayer for one minute. Contemplate and give thanks for the gift that has been entrusted to you.

Prayer 1

Pure, my God, is the soul You gave me.
You formed it. You shaped it. You breathed it into me.
You keep it safe within me.
Someday, when this soul returns to You,
I will find a place in eternity.
But as long as spirit breathes within me,
I place before You my thanks,
Eternal my God and God of my ancestors,
Creator of all creation, Sovereign of all souls.

Baruch atah, Adonai, asher b'yado nefesh kol chai, v'ruach kol b'sar ish.

We give You praise, Adonai: all life is in Your hand;
And in Your care, the soul of every human being.

                      Mishkan HaNefesh, Rosh Hashanah, page 122

Prayer 2

Precious above all is the soul within me.
A spark of childhood innocence;
Curious, hopeful, loving, and good.
Whatever I’ve done, wherever I’ve gone wrong,
However I’ve been hurt –
I know its light still shines.
May I return and reconnect
With the part of me that belongs to You—
My divine core: eternal, incorruptible.
                    —  Mishkan HaNefesh, Rosh Hashanah, page 123

Prayer 3

My soul came to me pure,
Drawn from the reservoir of the Holy.
All the time it remains within me,
I am thankful for its thirst
For compassion and justice.
Let my eyes behold the beauty of all creatures;
Let my hands know the privilege of righteous deeds.
                    —  Mishkan T'Filah, page 79

To conclude our practice, we look to a passage from this week’s Haftarah portion.

In Isaiah 54:8 we read:

“I hid My face from you; but with kindness everlasting I will take you back in love.”

As we enter the High Holy Day period, it is important for us to see what is initially hidden from us; to seek that which we refuse to see. It is equally important to greet what we will find with love and compassion, rather than turn away in disgust or disappointment.

As Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur draw near, it is necessary to look inward and see who you are at this moment in time.

What do you see that pleases you?
What do you see that needs attention?
Breathe.
Seek out that which is hidden, do not be afraid to look.
Only once it has been seen, can it be given the attention it needs for improvement.
Face what you find with compassion and love.

Let each of us make this year one of meeting ourselves and others with kindness, compassion, and love.

Let us choose to see what lies before us and greet it with generosity and open arms.

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