Finding Spiritual Balance in Tishrei

Tishrei is the head of our spiritual year. It is one of the four Jewish New Years, but over the generations it has become the Jewish New Year. According to the Talmud it is the new year of Kings. Like so many things in Judaism, Tishrei has layers within layers and microcosms within microcosms to explore.

This month is a challenging one for some many reasons. The number of holidays alone presents a challenge to our organizational skills. But in the modern world the number of holidays so close together also presents a challenge to our ability balance home, work, and our spiritual worlds. The sign of the month, the scales, I think is not only related to the concept of Divine judgment between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but also asking us to weigh what we value in the world.

I think Tishrei is a microcosm of the entire year with the four major holidays. Tishrei is always 30 days in length, so like the scales it is always a perfectly balanced month if we allow it to be.

Consider, if you will, that the harvest is a communal experience, as are the High Holidays. Tickets for high holidays often ensure the survival of a congregation. Building a sukkah, is best done in community. And on Yom Kippur, while it is is a private experience in many ways, is experienced in a communal setting. It is a time of year that we are so conscious of our relationship to community. Do you have to think about where you are attending high holidays?

โ€œSave, please, human and animal, flesh and spirit and soul, sinew and bone and muscle, image and likeness and body, this glory like a passing breath, and renew the face of the earthโ€ฆโ€ โ€”from the Sukkot liturgy (

So as we move into a month of personal and communal prayer, I invite you to join me on a renewed exploration of our spiritual practice as experienced through the wheel of the year. โ€œThe word Tishrei derives from the Akkadian (Tashritu) or from the Aramatic โ€œshereiโ€ meaning “to beginโ€. So begin again with me and renew your spiritual life and communal practice. In this month where we put formal Rosh Chodesh observance aside in favor of Rosh Hashanah services, let us begin again.

Adapted from a post originally written for Peeling a Pomegranate, 2009

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