Rabbi Nanus's Shabbat Message - August 18, 2023

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Rabbi Nanus's Shabbat Message - August 18, 2023

Dear Friends,

This is what I did during the past week:

Officiated at the funeral of a congregant who died too soon.

Officiated at the wedding of a lovely young woman whom I’ve known since she was two years old.

Sat at the bedside of a dying congregant, held her hand, and said the Shema with her.

Celebrated the birth of my niece’s new baby.

Tried to comfort a mother who recently lost her child.

Had dinner with a very inspiring friend who just came back from a trip to Kenya, where she is single-handedly supporting a small rural school for poverty-stricken children.

Talked at length on the phone, trying to support and help another very close friend in New York City whose son took cocaine, mixed with methamphetamines, had a heart attack, and now has brain damage.

Celebrated my birthday by managing to pass the written driving test at the DMV so I could renew my license (It was hard!), and then going out to a lovely lunch with my daughter.

Ate dark chocolate sorbet every night.

Tonight, we enter the month of Elul, the month of introspection and self-examination that leads up to the High Holidays. It is the time when we are supposed to take an account of our souls and try to repair what is broken in our lives.

Traditionally, we are required to blow the shofar every morning to remind us to wake up and pay attention. Another year has passed and who knows what the coming year will bring? What are we doing? How are we living? Is there any meaning or purpose to our lives?

These past seven days have blasted me awake more than any ram’s horn could ever do. I have been in the vortex of so many worlds and it has pushed me to face so many truths. 

Life is precarious and precious. We live on the tops of precipices and in the deepest, darkest valleys. Every day, people are suffering and celebrating, experiencing sorrow and joy, striving to do their best, and facing challenges that some of us cannot even imagine. They are dying or giving birth, laughing or crying, opening their hearts and hands to others, or filled with regrets and remorse because it’s too late. 

This is reality. This is the multiverse that we all inhabit. 

In Hebrew, besides being the name of this month, the word Elul is also an acronym for Ani L’dodi v’dodi li, which means “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

Love your family. 

Love your friends.

Love yourself. 

Be grateful for the blessings in your life and never take anything or anyone for granted.

And when you feel overwhelmed, sometimes a little chocolate really helps.

Shabbat Shalom.
With love,