Rabbi told us a story during Friday evening’s Shabbat service, a tale he’d picked up from a book he’d recently read to his two young daughters. It was about a little boy whose enthusiasm for magic — whereby things happen with a flick of the wand and the recitation of some suitably impressive-sounding words — got him into trouble when it didn’t bring the results he’d hoped in the real world. He wanted something for nothing, the accomplishment without the work.
Rabbi reminded us that if we want to enjoy the fruits of this season of spiritual renewal, we must do the work. If we fail to do our homework now, the ancient prayers we will utter at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be no more than “magic” words. To put it in Harry Potter parlance, they’ll be as effective as a Muggle waving a stick and saying, “Accio broom!”
We know better than to expect an incantation to clean our house. The housekeeping of our heart requires equally real effort, for all that it isn’t physical labor. We must do the work; the arrival of the new year won’t magically do it for us.
#BlogElul, the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, invites participants to chronicle the month leading up to the Jewish High Holy Days through blog posts, photos, and other social media expressions.