Saturday, October 1, 2016

Selichot, A Minyan of Questions, and Vera

This is the second part of a series of blog posts discussing the Jewish High Holy Days.

I probably should have done a blog post last week discussing about what is significant about the day of Selichot (a day of reciting prayers and prose).  Usually on the Saturday night before the High Holy Days begin, Selichot (say: slee-KHOHT) is where we Jews, regardless of movement, ethnic identity, dialect, or tradition, start to prepare for the Ten Days of Awe, or the Ten Days of Repentance; the days from Rosh Hashanah (say: RAHSH ha-SHAHN-ah) and Yom Kippur (say: YOHM kipp-OOR).  But, since my temple observes an Ashkenazic tradition with a Sephardic dialect (yeah, go figure that one out), since Rosh Hashanah falls on a Monday this calendar year Selichot is observed on the Saturday the whole week prior.

In a proverbial nut shell, Selichot is relatively minor in its celebratory significance.  The biggest thing that occurs during Selichot (at least at my temple) is the changing of the Torah coats.  Yeah, we keep our Torah scrolls in the finest argyle and cashmere, no.  However, each Torah scroll has its own cover, or "coat," to protect it from environmental damage.  The majority of coats will be blue or purple in color.  To observe the High Holy Days properly, it is the custom to "dress" the Torah scrolls in white, to signify purity, the state of being when we enter the Ten Days.

So, why so early you wonder?  Well, when you have a new year's celebration following the day where ask for forgiveness to those who you have wronged, intentionally or not, I don't care how extroverted you are; you will need that time to save up all the spoons as you can before entering into the Ten Days.

Usually, in between Selichot and Rosh Hashanah, folks will have their last gatherings and parties, celebrate what a wild ride the Jewish year has been.  It's best to get all of that out of your system before Rosh Hashanah, so you can have a clear head and a mindful presence going in.

With all of that said, during the Ten Days, we as Jews are asked about what we have done to better the community this past Jewish year, what we have done to better loved ones around us, and what we have done for ourselves, among other things.  The folks at 10Q have a system where they will send you a question a day to reflect on what you have done and what you plan on doing as the new year rolls on.

If you would like to play along with 10Q, sign up for their email program at their website.

Or....

You could answer Vera's Minyan of Questions, heh.

A minyan is a group of 10 Jewish people (or nine Jewish people plus one Torah scroll), which is required to recite certain prayers during a service.  Vera's Minyan of Questions is just a group of 10 questions, designed to help you think about what you have done so far and what you would like to do.  Unlike 10Q, I'm going to share with you those 10 questions now, and you don't have to do these during the Jewish Ten Days.  Hell, bookmark this page and do the questions come December 31 or on your birthday or whenever!

*ahem*
  1. What goal(s) did you achieve?
  2. What was the most awesome thing you did for yourself?
  3. Who made the biggest impact (negative, neutral, or positive) in your life?
  4. What did you do to help someone in their greatest need?
  5. What do you think your community needs in order for it to thrive?
  6. Who do you have to make amends to, regardless if they were at fault or not?
  7. What is holding you back from being the best person you can be?
  8. How are you going to improve yourself within 12 months of today?
  9. What three things can you pledge, today, in making your community a better place?
  10. What goal(s) would you like to achieve?
Share your answers here!  I would love to read them and reply.

Happy internal scavenger hunting.

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