DAYS: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays
We stand now in the days of the Hebrew month of
Elul, a powerful month that radiates with intense spiritual
compassion. This month prepares us for the awesome High Holidays.
In this spirit we bring you another excerpt from Simon Jacobsons
new book, 60 DAYS: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays.
Each of the 60 Days comes with a calendar, inspirational quote,
facts and historical events, laws and customs, a relevant
insight and a daily exercise.
The Baal Shem Tov  taught that everything we see,
whether good or bad, is really a reflection of ourselves.
If it was not, wed simply not see it.
This phenomenon is part of a merciful way that
G-d has of teaching us lessons in life. Most of us have a
difficult time hearing from others that we have a flaw which
we ourselves dont recognize. Therefore, G-d sets us
up to have a confrontation with a person who exhibits that
same flaw in some form. We see it and we say how terrible.
But then it dawns on us that we exhibit the same behavior,
though perhaps in different form.
The same is true for positive things. We recognize
a positive characteristic in others because we have it in
ourselves. If we didnt have any element of it, we wouldnt
In other words: You are what you see. And you
see what you are.
Many Jews living in Germany in the 1930s didnt
recognize the evil of the German people because they had none
of it in themselves. They couldnt fathom that anyone
could murder them in cold blood. If you are incapable of a
crime, its impossible to imagine that someone else is
capable of it.
There are atrocities that we cant even
relate to because were not capable of doing such a thing
The same is true for goodness or holiness. Many
of us are cynical because we never met anyone truly holy or
truly pure. So we dont believe that its possible
to be that way because its not part of our own experience.
Ask yourself: Are you cynical about the holiness
of others? Do you see the goodness around you? When confronted
with a behavior that you dislike are you able to see the same
flaw, in some form, in yourself?
Exercise for the day:
~ Of the events of the past day, select a positive
experience and identify how the goodness you encountered is
embodied in you.
~ Of the events of the past day, select a negative
experience and identify how this reflects a negative characteristic
that you possess.
Eluls unique power (even
over Tishrei) is that the Thirteen Attributes of Divine
Compassion radiate even when we are immersed in the mundane
activities of the weekday.
This fulfills the ultimate purpose of life,
but it requires the most powerful energy of all: to integrate
the Divine onto our material lives.
Today is the full moon of Elul, which
symbolizes fullness in all our activities of the month, in
our case: fullness in our soul-searching work. What makes
the moon full? When the moon is aligned with the sun and earth
in the exact angle that allows its entire body to reflect
the light of the sun to us on earth. The moon is the embodiment
and epitome of bittul (suspension of self): Having
no light of its own it reflects the light of the sun. Bittul
is the primary ingredient in our teshuvah work
in Elul. According to Jewish mysticism the full moon represents
the fullness of malchut (sovereignty and
dignity). As we prepare in Elul to rebuild
malchut on Rosh Hashana, the full moon of Elul
gives us special power to intensify our work.
 The Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name):
the title given to Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (1698-1760),
founder of the Hassidic movement. (It is abbreviated