Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking Woodsock to Elul


The recent release of Taking Woodstock, a semi-true film about Elliot Tiber, a nice Jewish boy, and the infamous 1969 music festival he helped orchestrate, got me thinking about the month of Elul.
Woodstock was the three-day concert that defined a generation. It has become so legendary now, that just about anyone who is anyone claims to have been there during those exciting and extremely wet days listening to thirty-two acts including Joan Baez, Santana, the Grateful Dead, CCR, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and the late, great Jimi Hendrix.
Approximately 500,000 people came to hear the music and celebrate youth and hippie culture in a way that has never been seen before or since.
The reason why the Woodstock got me thinking about Elul is because of the very transformative nature of the event. The sense of social harmony attained at Woodstock, in particular, has been a desired goal at gatherings large and small ever since.
Personal and social harmony really are two of most significant underlying goals of teshuvah. We seek forgiveness from ourselves, our friends, our families, and from God, all with the hope of finding inner and outer peace. Fortunately teshuvah doesn't require a seismic cultural shift to help us in this journey. Nor do we need to gather together in the fields of upstate New York. Instead when the shofar beckons us, like a loud guitar riff (yes I did just compare the shofar to a guitar riff), we can feel the awesome nature of what holiness truly means.
May Elul be for you a time to forgive, a time to reconcile, and a time to listen. All with the goal of finding harmony and peace in your own lives and the larger world as well.
I just have one small favor to ask: please no tie-dye at the High Holidays, unless you are also wearing bell-bottoms.

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