Monday, September 12, 2016

Elul Tools 2016 - 10 Elul 5776


Elul Tools 

Building a Strong 

Foundation for the 

Days of Awe

Shofar Blast 
(press the arrow below)

Today's Elul Chai-Ku:

I think I forgot
to thank you, body of mine.
Your work never stops.

10 Elul—Coming Back Home, to YOU
Chesbon Hanefesh. Searching our souls. Taking an
honest look, a thorough accounting of our conduct in the past year. This is a major component of preparing for the Days of Awe. We have examined many areas of our outer life in the past ten days. Now is the time to examine our relationship to ourselves. Just as the outside world has many levels through which to navigate, so too does the inside world. Diving into our inner universe, and tackling it whole, would be too much for one day, so we will investigate one layer at a time.

Today’s focus is the personal home: Our Body. This outside structure is often referred to as merely a shell, a container for our neshemah (soul). The image of a “container” for our life force definitely creates a desire to take care of it! But our bodies are also complex, intricate machines. It’s actually inconceivable that all the body’s systems (skeletal, muscular, vascular, respiratory, neural, organ, sensory) work in unison all day long, even when we are asleep. Though we are very aware when something isn’t working (either from major health problems, or even minor ones like a sore throat), this impressively designed instrument keeps ticking and moving and performing with little thought on our part.

There is a blessing in Judaism that expresses both awe and gratitude for the gift of our bodies. This prayer acknowledges that our bodies, as intricate as they are and the precision with which they must function, ACTUALLY WORK!

Blessed are you, THE ARCHITECT, our God, the sovereign of all worlds, who shaped the human
being with wisdom, making for us all the openings and vessels of the body.  It is revealed and known 
before your Throne of Glory that if one of these passage-ways be open when it should be closed, or blocked up when it should be free, one could not stay alive or stand before you.  Blessed are you, MIRACULOUS, the wondrous healer of all flesh.

(Kol Haneshamah:  Shabbat Vechagim, Reconstructionist Press)

Today’s Elul Tool:  Think about this Jewish blessing for the body. How often do you feel the complete amazement this prayer expresses? If you’re like most folks, not even one minute of the day!  Your body is working for you constantly. But how much time do you devote to taking care of it? To giving thanks for it? Consider these questions:

•  How have you taken care of your body, this sacred vessel, over the course of the last year?

•  Did you keep it fit and flexible with exercise?

•   Did you nourish it with healthy, wholesome foods?

•  Did you get enough rest?

•  Of equal importance, did you experience enough physical pleasure (dessert, intimacy, baths, massage)

•  Did you take pride in and have fun with your appearance (dressing up, changing your hair-style, manicure, pedicures etc.)

•  Were you aware of your body as a gift. Did you say thank you?

Avoid judging yourself right now!!  Instead be curious. See if you can neutrally investigate your relationship to your body this past year.

Psalm 27
It is customary to read Psalm 27 twice daily during Elul.
Here is an online version of Psalm 27 for easy access. 

For Families and Kids!

Junior Tool Box:  
•  As a family, discuss how you have taken care of AND neglected your body. This is a good time to talk about sleep and the importance of rest as well as healthy, balanced eating habits.

•  If you have a large roll of paper, do a full body tracing. If not you can draw the outline of a body on a regular piece of paper. Label all the parts of the body. Discuss the wonderful things bodies can do with all of these parts.

•  Discuss the different senses and the gift each of them give to us, everyday.

•  Discuss the different systems and organs of the body.  Share your wonder and amazement about what these systems and organs allow us to do.

•  Make a drawing, collage, or other depiction of wholesome and nutritious foods. Discuss:  Which did you eat a lot of this year?  Which did you not eat?  Did your body need those to be healthy.

•  Do the same activity as above but change the topic to exercise.

•  For the rest of the month of Elul (or longer!) say thank you once a day for just one incredible thing about your body.

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