Here it is – snuck up on us, again…right on time, just like it always does. We read parasha Ki Tivo this Shabbat, but Saturday night starts the roller coaster ride known as the High Holidays.
So, instead of looking at Ki Tavo, though there’s some great stuff in there, I’ll place a few words for your consideration about Selichot and the coming 5779.
One addition to the service is reciting the “Thirteen Attributes,” a list of God’s thirteen attributes of mercy that were revealed to Moses after the sin of the golden calf (Ex 34:6-7): Ha-Shem, Ha-shem , God , merciful , and gracious , long-suffering , abundant in goodness  and truth , keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation , forgiving iniquity  and transgression  and sin , who cleanses . God’s name is listed as an attribute unto itself, several times (Ha-Shem and God), noting the different roles God plays – ruler, creator, etc. These attributes remind us and God that we are asking to be forgiven for missing the mark this past year in (oh so many, for me) many ways.
Selichot is a doorway, a moment of transitions, as we leave one year behind and begin another. Transitions are risky – moving from one state to another state of being. Think about birth…and death. We mark transitions, and often “bless” them, in that we need blessings to protect or comfort or surround us as we transition from one place to another, one time to another.
I spent last weekend quite happily in Wisconsin at the new residential Limmud Chicago+MW. There were a couple of sessions about mikveh. Mikveh (the ritual immersion) traditionally had specific uses – the monthly immersion for married women, conversion, and preparation for holidays. Now, there are so many more: after surgery, after a miscarriage, after taking part in Tahara (washing a body), after a divorce, after abuse, etc. These are all moments of transitions, and the immersion in sweet, natural water is like a soft cloak that is both comforting and warm, and slightly jarring, making us pay attention.
So, this weekend for those who will take part in Selichot, may this be a comforting cloak of and a slight jar to the soul.
For now, please forgive me for doing anything that offended or harmed you in this last year. Wishing all of you a year of learning, (find your local Limmud, or travel to the nearest one..you won’t regret it!), sweetness, a little bit of spice, joy, hugs when you cry, laughing until you cry, and calm existence in your world. May God forgive us all, may we forgive each other, and may 5779 be a year of goodness and peace in the world.