The period of the month of Elul and the Yamim Noraim, known as the High Holiday season, is a great gift, מן הטובות אשר הטיב השי”ת עם ברואיו. Each year we are afforded this opportunity to reflect and to reconnect, to spend weeks engaged with G-d and community on a fundamentally deeper level than the usual. Ideally this serves as a basis for the substantive and tangible adjustments to our lives resultant of Teshuva. But even without those measurable changes, we treasure this time as our annual visit back to the source, to the wellspring of our existence, and we draw upon its inspiration – consciously and unconsciously –for the balance of the year.
Over the years at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion, we have worked to enrich the season and make it more impactful and lasting. A number of years ago we moved to focus our discussions during this season around a single theme, a specific area of growth that would be the backbone of our Teshuva work for that year. More recently we developed an artistic take-home card that encapsulated that theme, and that left room on the back for personal notes and commitments, insights taken from the season that could be referenced throughout the year.
Subsequently, we attempted to take one further step towards creating a lasting impression of this precious season. This booklet is a continuation of that effort, recording the central addresses of the Yamim Noraim 5778 season, dedicated to the theme, “Making Things Better.” These essays are not meant as scholarly presentations, but rather as words of inspiration and guidance to a community of growth-oriented individuals. While the words may have some value for a general audience, their primary intended audience is the membership of our community who heard these speeches during the Yamim Tovim, and who seek to keep the sparks of the season alive.
It is my hope that you will find this of some value, and that each of us and all of us will continue to grow in every way – religiously, inter-personally and individually – to enhance ourselves, our families and our community, and to sanctify Hashem’s Name in our world.
With best wishes for a healthy and productive year,
Rabbi Moshe Hauer