There are a lot of things to see that we pass over every day — about ourselves, about those we love, about those we aren’t smart enough to love, and most of all about God and the clues of his recently having passed near . . .
Part of the definition of repentance is repenting not only of deeds but of falling short, not only of transgressing but also of failing to achieve what we could. We could see more about ourselves. We could better understand loved ones. We could notice and care about those we don’t notice.
And we could see more of God, experience more, seek something higher and deeper.
This is the last Wednesday night live Elul discussion for 5771 (2011). Tonight: thinking more deeply about God, realizing more of the heights so we know how much more repenting we have to actualize. Abraham Joshua Heschel and Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, will give us some heights to ponder, some overlooked means of finding the beatific vision. And the Wisdom of Solomon (author unknown) has a practical method to consider.
HOW IT WORKS: I will post a few texts and some of my reflections as a discussion starter. Discussion will happen in the blog comments until 10:00 p.m. Eastern time. Use the refresh icon on your browser to read as new comments come in.
IF YOU’RE A FIRST-TIME COMMENTER: WordPress will ask you to register. Sorry, but I can’t prevent that. And I will have to approve your first comment. But I will be doing that during the hour of discussion and your comment will appear.
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RULES: This is discussion about repentance, mussar, High Holidays, and God. Anti-Jewish comments, rudeness, comments of excessive length, and similar misdemeanors will get you deleted. But I expect the best of those who show up and I doubt there will be any unpleasantness.
HESCHEL on deceiving ourselves about faith:
We often assume it is God we believe in, but in reality it may be a symbol of personal interests that we dwell upon.
–God in Search of Man, ch. 1, “Self-Understanding of Judaism.”
HESCHEL on honesty with ourselves:
Rabbi Bunam of Przyscha used to give the following definition of a hasid. According to medieval sources, a hasid is he who does more than the law requires. Now this is the law: Thou shalt not deceive they fellow-man (Levit 25:17). A hasid goes beyond the law; he will not deceive even himself.
HESCHEL on seeing God in our surroundings:
The feeling caused by the sublime is astonishment . . . the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other . . . In contrast, the biblical man in sensing the sublime is carried away by his eagerness to exalt and praise the maker of the world.
Cry out unto God, all the earth,
Sing of the Glory of his Name,
Make his praise glorious;
Say unto God: how sublime are your works! (Psa 66:2-3)
-ibid., ch. 3, “The Sublime.”
[I’ll type more quotes in the comments since I’m running late . . . ]