Tonight marks the 25th day of the Jewish month of Elul. The new moon is fast approaching. Soon we will be eating round challah with raisins and dipping apples in honey. About this day, Rabbi Eliezer taught: "The world was created on the twenty-fifth of Elul...This implies that first person was created on Rosh Hashanah."
This midrash comes as part of a Jewish theological thread that places creation and our relationship with the natural world at the center of our spiritual lives. [*wink*wink* more to come about this on Rosh Hashanah...]
In preparation for the birthday of the world and it could be exciting to think about how we might mark the 25th of Elul. This year the 25th of Elul begins tonight. I offer you the modest ritual proposal of my teacher Rabbi Ebn Leader, based on the teachings of the Ben Ish Hai, an Iraqi rabbi:
When setting out candles to mark the arrival of Shabbat, add five candles (or set out a total of five) to signify each of the days of creation that proceeded the emergence of humankind.
Take a moment before or after reciting the blessing over the Sabbath candles to reflect on the wonder of creation, and to recommit to living more consciously as but one part of an amazing and interconnected planet. You are also invited each night leading up to Rosh Hashanah to read one day of creation from Genesis 1.
Praise the light that shines before us, through us, after us. May we have the presence of mind to remember that this planet and all its life precedes us.
Rabbi Ari Lev
P.S. Hot off the press! We have been dreaming up a year's worth of 5778 Kol Tzedek Adult Education. Registration is now open.