The Penitential Season, that is, which got kicked off Wednesday as the month of Elul began.
That means that only one month remains before the Jewish New Year rolls in, to be followed by Yom Kippur. Those are holidays marked by a certain degree of sober introspection, for this is the time when we traditionally take stock of our lives and try to turn towards the paths of righteousness.
During Elul, morning services conclude with the sounding of the Shofar, the ancient ram’s-horn trumpet that serves as both a warning and a call to action: a spiritual alarm clock of sorts. And we recite Psalm 27, the special psalm for the penitential days, from now until Hoshana Rabah in the latter part of next month.
Psalm 27 has always resonated with me, but this year it hits especially close to home with this verse in particular:
Ki avi v’imi azavuni va-HaShem ya-asfeini - Though my father and mother leave me, the Lord will care for me.
This is the first New Year I will be facing as an orphan: My father and mother have now both left me. It is a sobering realization... and yet it is the way of the world.
As for me, I have plenty of sober introspection of my own to face. I suspect most of us do as well. The Human Condition, they call it.