Rabbi's Weekly Message

Rabbi's Message

We are now well into the month of Elul, when we engage in cheshbon hanefesh: soul searching and spiritual preparation for the new year.  This Saturday night, we have another special opportunity to do this work together.

On Saturday night, we have our Selichot service.  Join us at 7:00 PM. 

The word Selichot refers to one of the sets of penitential prayers...you may recognize the word Selicha if you’ve ever been to Israel…it means Excuse me!

Our Selichot gathering will have three elements.  First, we will begin the worship service by changing the Torah mantles from the dark colors we use all year to the white ones we use during the High Holy Days.  The use of white is found in many part of the Holy Day observances.  Your clergy wear white robes and in Orthodox synagogues, they were white kittls, a different kind of robe.  Many of us will wear white kippot and many will wear white clothing. 

While none of this is a requirement, white is a powerful symbol of purity…a physical sign of what we strive for in this season and in the year to come. 

The second part of the Selichot service, once we have changed the Torah covers, is a series of prayers that are drawn from the High Holy Day liturgy.  It will be the first time of the season to hear the words and melodies that we will repeat many times during Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur.  Hearing them for the first time in the intimate setting of Selichot can be a powerful way to wake up to the possibilities of this season.  Many find that attending Selichot will help them get more out of the Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur services, since their minds and spirits are ready.

After the service, we will enjoy some dessert and have a discussion of the provocative and important new book by David Brooks.  Entitled The Second Mountain, it is subtitled The Quest for a Moral Life.  Here is one quote that is an example of the ideas we will discuss together.  “I don’t ask you to believe in God or not believe in God.  I’m a writer, not a missionary.  That is not my department.  But I do ask you to believe that you have a soul.  There is some piece of your consciousness that has no shape, size, weight, or color.  This is the piece of you that is of infinite value and dignity…The soul is the piece of your consciousness that has moral worth and bears moral responsibility.”

I look forward to the continued soul searching of this month of Elul and the High Holy Days.

Rabbi Stein


Parashat Ki Tavo
September 21, 2019

In this Torah portion, Moses instructs the Israelites regarding the first fruit offering. Moses then lists the blessings the people will enjoy if they keep the commandments, and the punishments they will suffer for disobeying them.