The Sound of My Beloved Knocking on the Door
The Biblical love poetry of Song of Songs describes anticipated romance with the phrase “Kol Dodi Dofek, My Beloved Knocks.” Our Sages take the intimacy of the book to be a metaphor for the love between God and The Jewish People. When do we feel the anticipation of God’s nearness? Throughout the month of Elul. You may hear the sound of God knocking on the door in the sound of each morning’s Shofar blasts. You may hear the sound of God’s knocking in the sound of your child’s voice asking innocently about the risks of returning to school. You may hear the sound of God knocking in the sound of a protestor’s chant for racial justice. You may hear the sound of God knocking in the sound of a doctor’s diagnosis.
Many congregants have signed up for ten private minutes before the open ark in our Main Sanctuary, so they can listen more deeply for the still, small voice within. That is also the sound of The Beloved God knocking gently on the doors of our hearts. At your request, registration has been reopened. I encourage you to take this rare opportunity created for Elul.
The ancient rabbis teach that the name of the month of Elul stands for another verse from Song of Songs, probably its most famous verse: “Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is Mine.” They notice how the first letters of each of these four Hebrew words string together to spell “Elul.” This comes to teach that our spiritual anticipation of the new year makes us more loving and more loveable, because Elul is when the heart softens and the ears are more attuned to attentive listening.
There is a lesser known verse which also contains the four letters of Elul. “Elohecha et L’Vavcha V’et L’vav. Then the Eternal your God will open up your heart and the hearts of your descendants in order that you can love your God with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6) Here the way to open up the heart is to remove any callousness or barrier to feeling deeply (literally, “circumcise your heart.”) Throughout these six months of lockdown we may have closed off the heart in order to protect ourselves from the painful news of the day. As we rightly physically distanced ourselves to stay healthy, we may have distanced ourselves emotionally or spiritually as well.
According to our sacred calendar, now is the time to take up the three ways to expose our hearts to the world again, to God again, to fellow human beings: repentance, prayer, and tzedakah.
This week Cantor Rosen shared with me this recording of a prayer he and our professional choir created for our Selichot service with Reform congregations across Canada. The sounds of the High Holy Days and the sights of our sanctuary captured in this brief video were enough to stop me in my tracks, enough to crack my heart open, enough to let the prayers hidden there begin to stir. I hope the same will be true for you, too. Click here for a hint of what The Days of Awe will bring.
As they do each year, it seems the High Holy Days are coming right on time. We at Holy Blossom are preparing inwardly and outwardly for what promises to be a most meaningful and memorable season. Are you? Do you hear The Beloved One Knocking? How will you open the door?