Dawn: An Elul Poem

August 25, 2023Lee McPhillips Radlo

As we prepare for the High Holy Days, we engage in cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of the soul. During the month of Elul, we look inward and reflect. Part of what we all encounter during this time of introspection is brokenness, imperfection, and the desire for shleimut - wholeness. This poem speaks to the possibilities of healing ourselves and our world.

We say night falls
but dawn breaks

As I roll those words
around on my tongue,
in my mind
I see ancient jars

I see hearts

I see light
streaming through cracks
like the
Ten Divine Vessels of Creation
sparks scattering
to become
our perfectly-imperfect
broken world
waiting for us
to mend it
bring it to wholeness -
and in that
circular miracle
mending us
making us

Dawn breaks
hearts break
even Divine Vessels

All emerge from darkness
into light
becoming light

all possible
for us
for our perfectly-imperfect

Related Posts

You’re Invited to Remember

Growing up, I saw Yizkor as a mysterious event on Yom Kippur afternoon. The grownups would return to temple in the afternoon, while my sister and I stayed home. There was no explanation, just an understanding that this was a thing our parents and grandparents did, and we did not.

Judgment Days

Some label Rosh HaShanah and the period between the New Year and Yom Kippur as "Judgment Days," a time during which the trajectory of our lives for the coming year is reached.

Simple Ways to Make Yom Kippur Meaningful at Home with Young Children

As the high holidays approach, we are reminded that there are so many meaningful Jewish moments to celebrate. Within the joy and ruach (spirit) of holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah, lies the solemn and serious Yom Kippur. There are a myriad of ways to make Yom Kippur meaningful for young children, for whom especially, Yom Kippur is not an easy holiday to understand.