Shabbat Message: A Message for Rosh Chodesh Elul – Finding the Beauty that Lies Within

Posted on August 21, 2020 by Rabbi Arnold S. Gluck

Rabbi Kalonymous Kalmish Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto left us a wonderful metaphor for the work of repentance and renewal that we began today with Rosh Chodesh Elul.

When sculptors begin their craft, he said, what stands before them is a “brute block of stone.” Within that stone lies the possibility of something beautiful that is as yet unborn, something that exists only in potential, a thought or an image in the mind and heart of the artist.

Like the craft of the sculptor, teshuvah, repentance, is also a creative act. Its art resides in seeing that which lies within – the beauty that is innate and is as yet still hidden. The task of teshuvah is to chip away at that which obscures the image that lies inside, the vision of beauty that is yet to be revealed.

When seen in this way, repentance may be welcomed with joy as a gift and a blessing. We are given the opportunity to re-imagine ourselves – to see ourselves as a work in progress, still becoming what we were meant to and can yet be. God made us unique and beautiful, each in our own way, and at our core is the divine image that God lovingly implanted within us. This is the masterpiece that exists in each of us.

The mystics of Israel imagined God as our beloved partner urging us to return to our truest most beautiful selves – to the Divine. Our beloved beckons to us, inviting us to experience the joy of wholeness that awaits one who opens the heart to love. It is only through love and joy that we can penetrate the tough exterior to reveal the image of the Divine within.

So, I wish you a very happy Elul! May it be a time of joy for each and every one of us. Let us look for the good that lies within. Let us seek to find it in every person we encounter during these days leading to the New Year. If we do, we can break through the hardness of our hearts to the image of God that lies within, to forgive and be forgiven, to renew
and be renewed.

I wish you all a chodesh tov and a peaceful and joyful Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Arnie Gluck