Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Kavannot Edition 1 High Holidays 5770

As we sit together during this High Holiday season so many words, thoughts and ideas will pass through our hearts and brains. We are often overwhelmed and unable to take it all in, to find meaning in any of it. So here is a chance to pause for a moment, take the time to linger on some of the words of our rabbis related to the season so you might find a brief kavannah – idea that helps intend your heart, incline it towards forgiveness, introspection and renewal. Shanah Tovah U’metukah!

- One must ask oneself: “What have I done?” (Jer. 8:6) What have I become? (Rabbi Jonah of Gerona, Gates of Repentance, First Principle)

- Who has achieved complete t’shuvah? A person who confronts the same situation in which he [or she] sinned and abstains, although that person has the potential to commit the sin again. -- (Moses Maimonides, Laws of Repentance 2:1)

- [Torah] is like a rope which the great and gracious God has thrown to us as we drown in the stormy sea of life, that we may seize hold of it and be saved. (The Memoirs of Gl√ľkel of Hameln, Trans. Marvin Lowethal)

- When all we see and feel is negativity, we must search within ourselves for an aspect of goodness, what he called a white dot within the black, and then find another and another until these dots form musical notes. Our task it to find enough white notes to form a melody – a melody that will define our core and affirm our fundamental goodness. (Rebbe Nachman of Bratslov

- Accustom yourself to say again and again, ‘create for me God, a pure heart and renew within me an upright heart. – (Rabbi David Lida, Spanish Kabbalist)

- Prayer will not come about by default. It requires education, training, reflection, contemplation. It is not enough to join others; it is necessary to build a sanctuary within, brick by brick, instants of meditation, moments of devotion. This is particularly true in an age when overwhelming forces seem to conspire at destroying our ability to pray. (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

- Teshuvah essentially represents a lifelong journey back to unflagging soul-searching. It is a response to a spiritual disquiet that gives us the urge for Teshuvah. Indeed, we fell we are no longer the right person in the right place we are becoming outsides in a world which escapes us. The main thrust of this season is indeed to show the definite intention of changing the scheme of things. Someone who does Teshuvah feels the need not only to redeem but to rebuild this or her past. (Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz)

- I lost my way I forgot to call your name. The raw heart beat against the world, and the tears were for my lost victory. But you are here. You have always been here. The world is all forgetting and the heart is a rage of direction but your name unifies the heart and the world is lifted into its place. Blessed is the one who waits in the traveler’s heart for his turning. – Leonard Cohen

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