Panim El Panim: Face To Face
The Zohar, a medieval Kabbalistic ‘how to’ book of teachings, explains that at the beginning of Elu l we are standing back to back, achor el achor , and by the end of Elul we are facing panim el panim , face to face. This analogy reminds me that I often turn away from people and situations which challenge me most. These times require that I use maximum inner strength and spiritual maturity to resolve the past hurts and pain which obscure my path and keep me from being my best self.
This season of repentence calls us to turn toward that pain, something that is very hard to do. It calls us to come face to face with that which is most difficult for us personally, professionally and spiritually. The last verse of Lamentations is a mantra for our High Holy Day Season: Hashiveinu Adonai Elecha v’snashuva, return us Adonai , towards our path of holiness and wholeness. If we have missed the mark or fallen short, if we have ignored our deepest fears and hurts, we now have the opportunity to face them head on. Only then will we open a well of forgiveness and compassion for ourselves and others. Looking forward and inward often means letting go of the hurts, pain and blame of the past. It also means we must turn to face that past and then somehow, let it go. Release the pain, release the anger, release the regret.
I pray that during these Holy Day moments we take this opportunity, through prayer and song, community and ritual, Torah and learning, to wash away our devastations and make a clean start. May the holy moments and wonder of this season renew our hope in ourselves and in the world. May we be reinvigorated with clarity for our path in life. May we join together in making this world a better place for ourselves and others. With each breath, may we inhale deeply and exhale slowly as a practice of teshuvah, repentence and forgiveness. May we find the peace we seek!
Shana tova umetuka , wishing us all a very happy and fulfilling High Holy Day Season!