Thinking about Elul: Prompts to Prepare for the High Holidays

This past Sunday we welcomed the Jewish month of Elul, which means Rosh Hashana is less than a month away. Traditional Jews have the practice of blowing the shofar each morning during this month as a wakeup call, reminding us daily to reflect and return to our truest self. (And yes, reminding us that we still need to buy those high holiday tickets.) Instead of trying to make the sudden transition into the holiday as if we’re joining the 300 club, many people use these next few weeks to ease into a more contemplative state.

Elul is a time of reflecting back on the previous year, a time for checking in with ourselves at this moment in our lives, and a time to think about where we are going. Past, present and future collide during this period, as we seek to learn more about who we are, where we are, and what we can give to the world. Like most things in life, the more we prepare for the Jewish new year, the more meaningful it will be.

Below are 18 prompts that you can use for writing, praying, meditating, or whatever method you use to turn inward.

Past

  1. What did you do really well last year? What are you proud of? Imagine you were being honored for the work you did last year – what would the presenter of that award say about you.
  2. Who helped you get through this past year? Who gave you something you really needed? What would you say to them if they were right in front of you?
  3. What were some formidable moments that occurred to you this year? What news stories affected you most?
  4. How were you hurt this year? When were times when you were angry? Sad?
  5. What lessons did you learn this year? How have you grown? In what aspects of your life did you improve?
  6. What were the major themes of your life this past year?

Present

  1. Are you where you thought you would be at this stage in life? What did you not expect?
  2. What are you grateful for?
  3. What are three major emotions that you’re carrying with you right now?
  4. What relationships are adding to your life? What relationships are draining you?
  5. How do you currently relate to religion/spirituality/God?
  6. What are you missing?

Future

  1. What big choices will you have to make in the coming year? What will influence your decision-making process?
  2. Who are your role models? What is one thing they do that you could try to emulate this year?
  3. What relationship could you do something to repair? Who do you need to forgive?
  4. What is something you’d like to do this year?
  5. In what ways can you bring goodness to the world? What strengths can you utilize to help others?
  6. Where would you like to be one year from now? What can you do to get there?
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  1. GatherDC | says:

    […] 10a). This idea, that it’s never too late, is a powerful message as we enter the month of Elul (which begins today) and start our own teshuva process. And it’s one that the Hound has […]

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