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August 19, 2013 / Rabbi Laura

Elul, Making Space

I’ve been on a bit of a cleaning kick lately.  This weekend, when I wasn’t spending time with my boys, I was  a whirling dervish spinning around the house cleaning out and clearing out. I relieved the refrigerator of expired salad dressings and condiments (you would Passover was approaching, not Rosh Hashanah).  I organized and refreshed the spices.  spicesUpon opening a box of miscellaneous craft supplies, I had to take 10 minutes to recycle scraps of craft paper that are just too small to be of use and toss all those dried out fabric markers. I finally made an appointment with the consignment store to take in the first batch of Fall clothes that I am hoping to resell.  The laundry is being done as I type.  And my desk is now cleared of all stacks of paper. You get the picture!

Frankly, I have a long list of summer projects I had intended to complete. Now that school has started, and Elul is here, it feels like summer is quickly on its way out.  Maybe my cleaning kick is a last-ditch effort to hold onto summer and the hopes of crossing more off of the list.

Or perhaps I am procrastinating.  I do have work to do. Reading to catch up on.  I like using my Sundays for house projects rather than work projects and tasks.  Otherwise they just never get done.

This I know about myself:  I cannot think clearly or focus unless I make the physical space to do so.  Since my high school years I have had to clean my room and my desk before I could actually sit down to do my home work. What’s the old proverb? A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind.” In my universe, a clean desk is the sign of an open mind.

Each of these little organizing tasks is my way of making space – both physical and spiritual – in my mind and my heart and my house so that I can have room to do the work I need to do.  That work may be one of my various consulting projects. It may be studying for one of the online courses I will be taking this year in my doctoral program.  It will surely be the work of cleaning off my slate from this past year and figuring out how to refresh, renew and begin again.  open your mind

Though it isn’t one of the “official” #BlogElul topics, today I have been thinking about cleaning and clearing.  I invite you to reflect with me:

  • What has been holding onto you that you need to break free from?
  • What have you been holding onto that is now time to let go?
  • What are you hoping to clear out holding onto you that you need to break free from?
  • How do you open your heart and mind?
  • How are you going to make space in the coming days so that you too can create openness and receptivity to the messages and work of our High Holy Days?



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