Tomorrow night we will observe Selichot at the temple. The Hebrew word means “forgiveness” or“pardon,” and refers to the prayers we recite i npreparation for the High Holy Days. In the context of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Selichot is regarded as the time for spiritual preparation for our encounter with these days.
Selichot represents an early start to what our tradition calls Heshbon Ha’nefesh —to take an“accounting of our souls.” What might we have done better during the past year? What would we like to change about ourselves during the coming year? Have we been faithful to the values and ideals we claim to hold dear? These are the compelling questions that are at the heart of Selichot and the days of Awe.
I hope you will join us for our Selichot program and service tomorrow evening. We will begin at 8pm with refreshments and a discussion about some of the important prayers and themes of the High Holy Days. The service will begin at 9pm as we“modify” the tradition of beginning Selichot at midnight when it is said that God is more inclined to forgive us for our shortcomings of the past year, and hope to change in the coming new year.
The meaning of Selichot for us? I like the following observation, as I think it expresses the challenge and purpose of this sacred time:
“Because forgiveness is like this: a room can be dark because you have closed the windows and you have closed the curtains. But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside. In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart.”
At this time of the year which is filled with hope and promise, may we be granted the wisdom and courage to “open the window” to our hearts and “draw the curtains apart.”
As I wish you Shabbat Shalom, I hope you will be with us tomorrow evening as we usher in the High Holy Day season.