Elul: Week 1

Each New Year brings with it specific guidance and intentions.

Using the mystical practice of gematria, which transforms numbers into Hebrew letters, the New Year we are about to enter, 5778, reveals the letters, ayin (70) and chet (8).

Ayin means Eye and chet is the first letter of Chayyim—Life.

This New Year, 5778. calls out to us: Eyes on Life.

Eyes on Life: Lift your eyes and acknowledge the life you have been given. See the gifts and the challenges, the blessings and the disappointments.

Eyes on Life: Be willing to see what you love and value and what creates fear and difficulty.

Eyes on Life: Pay attention; be awake. See the good; see possibilities.

Eyes on Life: See the life force that is everywhere and unites us as one.

Eyes on Life: 5778 calls to us to lift our eyes to life so that we will be able to see clearly and act

Elul, Week One:

Eyes on Life: Heshbon Hanefesh, an accounting of the soul.

We begin the journey into Elul by taking a very personal look at our lives.

We ask ourselves:

What has this past year brought?

What has gone well this year and what has been difficult or disappointing?

Where have we given of our time, energy and resources?
What have we created through our words and actions?

What do we feel good about? What has caused anger, hurt or pain?

We engage in heshbon hanefesh in order to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings of the year and to discover where we have caused pain and how we can engage in healing and repair.

It is essential, the tradition teaches, that we engage in this practice with compassion, that we explore these questions in ways that do not encourage guilt, shame or harsh judgment.  Berating ourselves does not guide us in returning to strength and awareness.

By examining ourselves with honesty, compassion and love, we are able to see more clearly how we have fallen short and how we can make amends, repair relationships and return to what we most value and cherish.

We engage in this practice so we can feel present and able to participate in the fullness of life.

Practices for the First Week of Elul

As we enter the month of Elul, we practice placing love and compassion upon our hearts and before our eyes.

Taking our seats and bringing the awareness to the breath, we set an intention to meet ourselves and others with chen, chesed v’rachamim, grace, loving-kindness and compassion.

With gentleness and care, we repeat the prayer: chen, chesed v’rachamim, grace, loving-kindness and compassion, over and over, feeling the sensations of the words filling our bodies and pouring forth into the world.

Each time we notice the mind has wandered, creating stories, posing arguments or chasing thoughts, we give thanks for noticing and call the attention back by returning to the breath and the call of the prayer.

As we close the sit we set an intention that as we go about our day we will do our best to respond to all we encounter with chen, chesed v’rachamim.


Write a note to someone thanking them for the generosity and kindness they have shown you over the past year.

Reach out to someone with whom there has been some estrangement over this past year.

Journal Writing:
Take time to reflect on what you have discovered this year and who you have become.

Eyes on Life:
Acknowledge ways in which you brought goodness, healing and connection through your words and actions.


At our meditation sit this Thursday morning, we will turn to the wisdom of Elul, focusing on the call to see the world and ourselves with eyes of grace, loving-kindness and compassion. Join us Thursday morning 8-8:30 AM EST via call-in.