#BlogElul 27: Intend

#BlogElul graphic

It’s Elul again!

Intend. What an interesting word. The immediate association, at least for me, is something about the road to hell and the paving stones thereof … I’m sure I’m not the only one. Here’s what I wrote about it last year.

Here we are almost at the end of Elul. This morning I ran the service at my shul as the usual Monday morning guy was out of town. I gave the shofar blower an aliyah (an honour of being called to the Torah) in recognition of his faithful attendance, every weekday in Elul, to wake us up with his blasts. Intentionality requires consciousness, after all.

All of our good intentions for the year that has passed, whether they came to fruition or not, are now almost over. It is time to think of the new year to come, to make new resolutions and set new intentions.

It always amuses me that many non-Jewish people consider September to be the “real New Year”. Of course it is, didn’t you know that? The people who set our New Year in September were much wiser than the ones who chose a date in the middle of winter. It seems so arbitrary to be starting the year in January. Autumn is a much better time – it’s a time of change, of reflection, of preparation for the hard winter to come, of true enjoyment of every day of sunshine we are graced with in these dying days of the old year.

The other choice, of course, is the spring, with its promise of renewal. That’s when the Farsi New Year is, and it’s a very legitimate choice as well. In fact, after the Exodus from Egypt our New Year was set to be in the spring, as a commemoration of that event. That’s why Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are in the seventh month of the year, according to the Torah. Yes, I know it doesn’t make any sense. Judaism has several New Years, depending on context. Shevat 15, for example, is the New Year for the trees.

So what does any of this have to do with intentions? Setting intentions is a crucial part of goal setting, of determining what we are planning to do and what aspirations we plan to fulfil in the coming year. Rosh HaShanah is a great time for doing that, as the leaves change and there is just a hint of a bite in the air at night.

Unless, of course, you are in the Southern Hemisphere, and Rosh HaShanah falls during the spring. But the entire Jewish year is reversed there, with Passover in the fall. I know that Australian Jews cope quite well with this, but I find it quite mind-blowing to do things like that.

So what intentions am I setting for the coming year? Lots of personal growth targets I am hoping to hit, including a deepening of my ability to read Torah, completion of my certification as a Life and Weight Loss Coach, and development of my business as a result. I plan to be healthy, to take the time to be happy and enjoy my children while they are still around, and to make enough money that I can sleep well at night and not worry.

How about you, what intentions are you setting for the coming year?

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