Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.
My friend starts rehab tonight. He checked himself into a clinic after reading this article about basketball player Chris Herren’s fight against heroin addiction. He’s inspired by Elul, by his responsibility to himself and his family, and by the understanding that it’s now or never.
It was a long struggle but an instant decision.
It reminded me of what Rav Kook wrote in the context of repentance, or coming clean—there are changes of mind and heart that happen over time, and some that happen in an instant of revelation:
Sudden repentance comes about as a result of a certain spiritual flash that enters the soul. At once the person senses all the ugliness of the transgression and one is converted into new being; already one experiences a complete transformation for the better… through the grace of some spiritual force, whose traces point to the depths of the mysterious.
I’m in awe of my friend’s honesty and determined commitment. Every one of us has addictive habits that started off as helpful crutches and became a greater cause of pain. It’s hard to own it, and to disown it, no matter how big or small the issue.
Prepent Day 20: Today is the final focus on feelings before we climb the ladder one more rung to the world of thought. I planned to write about awe today; another step in the process of mindful self-cleaning in preparation for the new year. Awe of witnessing or feeling real love and kindness touch another life. The awe of great art, music that silences cynicism; awe in awareness of the big picture and our role in it.
The big changes are hard, and even the smaller ones—habits and customs not necessarily serving us best—are hard to undertake. Perhaps, if we are ready to take the time to really reflect, we get the help we need in the form of a wake-up moment that opens our eyes to the self we long to see in the mirror.
Perhaps the greatest awe is what we feel when clear goals are set, and reached, and transformation truly happens.
Any habit that you want to reconsider during these days of Elul? What can help you try to change it, and who is there to witness and support? To all of who now attempt these transformations: safe journeys, courage, and a big, trusting hug.
Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.
Amichai Lau-Lavie is the founder of Storahtelling, and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul, an emerging New York City congregation.