Last night my daughter was missing. That's how it seemed, at least, while I was dreaming it. The weird thing about my dream is that I knew where my daughter was the entire time we were apart, and I desperately wanted to get her. I just couldn't for some reason – not until I heard her calling out to me, "Mommy, Mommy, where are you?"
In a flash I was there – hugging and kissing her – holding her close. I was so sad that we had been separated, and yet my dream-head knew that I couldn't have gotten her until she reached out to me. Now I have no idea what this all means in psychological terms (I'll leave that up to the shrinks out there reading this), but it actually has a very strong spiritual message.
Yesterday we entered the Hebrew month of Elul, the month proceeding the High Holidays. Elul is the official month of repentance, or teshuvah, which literally means to return, because it is during this month that we are supposed to focus on reaching out to God, so that He'll return to us.
Like a loving devoted parent, who only wants to be close to Her children, Judaism believes that Hashem (God) wants nothing more than for us to want to be close to Him. But the closeness and relationship can only occur when we seek it out.
It is certainly challenging to have any comprehension of a Supreme Being when we are limited to human capacities, but Judaism believes that the relationships we experience in this world both as children and parents and husbands and wives exist in part to help us better understand and relate to a Force that by definition is beyond comprehension.
And so by keeping our relationships in this world in mind and considering the love a parent feels for her child and the dependence a child has on his parent, we can start to get a glimpse into the relationship we're supposed to achieve with the Divine.
But just like many kids (teenagers in particular) believe that they don't need their parents (despite the fact that they intrinsically rely on them), many of us cast off God and spirituality, believing that we can get by in this world on our own. We feel that it is our intelligence, our hard work, our good fortune alone that gets us ahead, when in reality, Jewish thought tells us that "everything is in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of heaven."
Our Parent in Heaven patiently awaits us to reach out for that closeness, and Elul is considered the most auspicious time of the year for that closeness to be achieved. Let's all take the opportunity provided in this month and harness it for greater spiritual growth in the coming year.