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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Ten Days, Ten Questions

The internet is filled with congregations and organizations that aim to challenge people to look inward during the month of Elul so as to prepare for Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur which occurs directly after Elul ends.

I am adding my voice to the many other voices that are out there, asking and suggesting this as a pre-holiday pause in our usual routines. These questions are a challenge to you and to me. This is not something that I usually participate in, but if I know that you are also doing this, perhaps it will urge me to do the same. I think that it can only help.

Rosh Hashannah begins on Monday evening, September 6th, so looking backwards, here are the questions. (I am giving you plenty of lead time!) I haven't included any questions for Shabbatot.

If you participate, I would love to hear your responses. Feel free to email me with any of your answers or feel free to post here; whichever is best for you.

Leading up to the ten days, I would ask you to take time to pay greater attention to the details of your lives. Look around at your surroundings, both in your home, at your work and when you are on the way to do your activities. Don't let your eyes take these places for granted.

Begin to pay attention in a different way to your relationships. How do you speak to others, how do you listen to their responses? How does your language and tone vary when you speak to different people in your life?

Start to think about how you spend the time of your days and evenings. What is the work/leisure balance? Pay attention to your waking hours and your sleep and to the times that you feel you are at your best and times when you need a bit of a push.

Begin to look at yourself. Don't focus only on weaknesses, but the strengths that you possess. Perhaps become aware of things that you might wish to change about yourself, but don't stress about it; just be aware.d

And here are the questions. We're in this together. I hope to hear from you.

Ten Questions for Ten Days

Thursday, August 26

1. Think about something small that brings you joy. What is it? Try to savor these moments of joy in a deliberate way. How can you realistically open up your life to bring in more of these moments?

Friday, August 27

2. What is something or someone you see every day and perhaps take for granted? What is something that you can do to see that object, scene or person more clearly or more appreciatively?

Sunday, August 29

3. What is one habit that you’d like to improve on in the next year. What is one realistic step you can take that would help you change that habit?

Monday, August 30

4. Is there a story that you’d like to share with someone over the next year? Something that you haven’t shared before but believe it would be important for someone to know to understand you better.

Tuesday, August 31

5. What is one lesson from the past year and a half during Covid that has been positive for you and you would like to share and continue post-Covid?

Wednesday, September 1

6. What is a line from the morning prayer that we pray each morning that resonates the most for you? Why is that so? If you do not attend services, then think of this. What is a line or paragraph from a book you have read or a show you have watched that has resonated with you? Why do you think that this is so?

Thursday , September 2

7. The word improvement means many things to many people. We all hope to improve upon ourselves in the following year. What does improvement mean to you and how can you visualize a more "improved" you a year from now?

Friday , September 3

8. The call of the shofar is said to be a wake up call for people at the new year. Everyone has a shofar story that resonates with them. What is your shofar story and what does it mean to you?

Sunday, September 5

9. Repentance is true repentance when we have the opportunity to experience a situation again, but this time take steps to do things differently. Consider an experience where you could have done better and articulate how you would do it differently if given the chance again.

Monday, September 6

10. Rosh Hashannah marks the creation of the world. In a sense, we are all creators. What is something that you have created, small or large, that you are proud of.

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