Slichos in the middle of the night was always challenging and a little uncomfortable. But that’s probably only true here in the US where we lead this hybrid type lifestyle that combines a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It’s a concoction of combined lifestyles that are often mysterious if not contradictory.
That first night of pre Rosh Hashana slichos occurs this coming Saturday night or rather very early Sunday morning. It takes place in some shul just a few hours after Shabbos ends at about 10 pm or as late as 1am depending on the custom of the community you reside in.
Slichos—or prayers that focus on asking for a pardon or forgiveness for any wrongs we may have committed during the past year is a staple on most of our calendars. It is also amongst these and other thing an opportunity for synagogues to showcase their cantorial talent in advance of the services these chazzanim will deliver or present over the High Holly Days which after much anticipation are now drawing seriously near.
I suppose that since there is a season for everything, this indeed is the season of introspection and forgiveness. Some of us have been doing this for longer periods than others which can sometimes create a situation where a wandering mind may be disposed to try to figure out where we are going with all this?
On a pedestrian level I guess I can suggest a few things that we need to get done but in no specific or special order of importance. First and foremost this is the time for serious Tesshuva. Our sages say and write that the concept of Teshuva preceded the very creation of the world. In other words it would probably have been impossible for us to even entertain the possibility of living in a world where the concept of Teshuva did not exist.
Teshuva is not just something that exists out there somewhere and only applies to people we really don’t know or only hear about. TEshuva—or literally “Return”, is an idea and a philosophy that makes living possible and worthwhile.
And it is unique to Jewish life. Chassidic thought dabbles in the idea that Teshuva is actually illustrative of the fact that the concept and idea of time travel does actually exist in a real and non-science fiction level of existence. Teshuva, in particular at the juncture of the year allows us the option to look back over the year and focus on occurrences or events that we are possibly not too proud of or happy with. These ideas allow us to dwell on whatever it is that took place, genuinely dwell on whatever it was and summon up emotions that conjures feeling of regret or remorse accompanied by a commitment to never do that or behave like that again. More in this weeks 5TJT