As I sat with my feet shoulder-width apart, Rabbi Susan Schein led our Hillel group in meditation. As Jews, we are in the midst the month of Elul. Elul is the month leading up to the High Holy Days, of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is also during this time that I am drawn to exploring meditations and thinking about the year ahead of me even as I reflect on the past year. At our most recent home-cooked Shabbat dinner, I took a liking to a unique part of the Shabbat service. After all, the Shabbat meal is the beginning of the day of rest and I wanted to explore my spirituality within Judaism. This meditative exercise came from Psalm 27 in which, the kingdom of G-d is proposed and challenged.
I am a full-time student and would not call myself a rabbi or professional commentator of Psalm 27, but I understood this passage as a means of tugging at the human condition during the month of Elul. To prepare for a new year, we must be able to acknowledge the hard work of the previous year but also examine where we have fallen short. To be tall in the coming year, it becomes necessary to trust one’s inner guidance to grow and learn from all that has been. According to the Chabad translation, “If a camp encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; if a war should rise up against me, in this I trust.” To be the best person I can truly be, I need to accept truth and honesty as the way to succeed in the coming year.
Later at Shabbat dinner, my friends and I discussed the meditative exercise and concluded that to be the best possible people we could be, we would need to be there for each other as friends. Shabbat at Zachs Hillel House is like the psalm because it is about community and finding a kingdom within our hearts and minds.