What would you do differently if you knew you had 40 days before you die?
Each new year offers us the chance of make-over, turning a page and restarting our lives, for good. Some mystical traditions imagine Yom Kippur as the day on which we rehearse our death and the 40 days leading up to it as the period during which we focus on living our lives to the fullest. Deadlines can be useful lifelines to get us back on track and like all changes, gradual process is good strategy.
Welcome back to PREPENT: Journey into the High Holy Days with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder and spiritual leader of LAB/SHUL NYC, and join his annual 40 days journey to prep ahead, return to center,and enter the new Jewish year with more mindfulness and focus.
Starting on the first day of the month of Elul, Sunday, August 16, and leading up to Yom Kippur on September 23, Amichai will offer a daily dose of inspiration to get you ready for a new year and a new you, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for better being – and living.
PREPENT 5775/2015 – August 16 – September 23 2015.
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Why’s Amichai doing this? Find out here. Or Scroll down to read his reason.
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WHY I AM PREPENTING?
Serious bike rides require proper training. I learned that lesson the hard way at the Hazon NY Bike ride two summers ago. My left knee gave up after 46 miles, just towards the end of the first day. It was painful. This year I started training early, slowly increasing mileage towards the next ride on Sep. 4., half way through this 40 day journey towards the best or better version of me, inside and out.
A few years ago I realized that the solemn season with which we begin the Jewish new year, complete with feasts and fasts, is just like a serious bike ride, a marathon for body and soul, worthy of training and preparation for healthy and optimal results.
So I started the Prepent blog six years ago wanting to prepare and practice for the intense soul work that is at the heart of these days, leading into Yom Kippur, the day on which we rehearse our death and recommit ourselves to the best life possible. Deadlines are helpful lifelines to get us to our goal.
I like the notion that each new year gives me the option of reviewing the year that was, count my blessings, take a good look in the mirror, own the challenges, and commit to fixing what I can for a better year, a better me, a better world. When we come together as communities we affirm our commitment to this work and to our shared responsibility for the world, and for each other. But the heavy lifting happen within. That’s where the ‘pre’ in ‘prepent’ comes in.
Repent is a loaded word for the process known as ‘take charge of your life.’
The Hebrew term is ‘Teshuva’ which means ‘Return’ and also ‘Reply’.
One of the earliest uses of this term is in the 3rd century CE Mishna Avot, where Rabbi Eliezer counsels: “You should repent the day before you die.”
Which is, of course, each and every day, like today. Not to be too morbid about it, some mystical traditions assigned the 40 days leading to Yom Kippur as the days of awe during which one prepares for one’s death, taking care of unfinished business. Yom Kippur is the day on which we get to read our obituary. It’s a powerful exercise. And it also requires some humor. Dorothy Parker wrote:
Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die.
(But, alas, we never do.)
Well, sometimes some of us do.
So I am taking this intention on as this year’s PREPENT challenge and I’m inviting you to join me. Some journeys, even when so personal, are easier together.
Starting on the first of Elul, August 16th, I’ll post a brief daily note with do’s, tips, ideas, and the hope that my personal reflections will inspire others to take this process seriously as a beneficial conversation and process.
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