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The Beginning of the Beginning

by Rabbi David Zaslow
August, 2012

Judaism is not merely a religion, but a nature-based montage of spiritual practices we call mitzvot intended to elevate consciousness, and to help each of us to realize our own Divine essence, and unique destiny. Every lunar cycle is associated with some festival or holy day that helps each of us along our own unique journey toward self realization. To communicate directly with God one needs to go no further than taking a walk in nature. In reality, one needs to go no further than where we already are: sitting in our homes, sharing a meal with a loved one, or doing our daily prayers. God is in the synagogue, but not just the synagogue; God is is in nature, but not only in nature. Judaism celebrates God as being Omni – Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent. No limit. No image. No form. Rather, God is imminent and all things at all times.

As we enter the month of Elul, our consciousness shifts with the season. We sense the early urgings of the oncoming Autumn. Our consciousness moves inward, and we begin the process of self reflection that marks the beginning of the high holiday season. As we enter Elul we are not just at the beginning of a new season, but at the beginning of the beginning. So, we ask ourselves “what am I beginning? What am I beginning to begin?”

I hope that the notion that consciousness is embedded in nature, in the season, will inspire each of us to follow the lead that God is showing us in the natural world around us. Our task is to begin to begin. Begin to go inward, and reflect upon the past year, and the new year ahead of us. Elul is coming. Soon we will sound the shofar each morning as a wake up call reminding us that God is as near as the next breath.