Malaise and Selichot

The predominant theme for this time of year, the days of the month of Elul is in the word, S’lichah:  “I’m sorry for the wrongs I did.”  Please read Reb Zalman’s message.  It is a message for everyone, and especially for people who may find this time of year a challenge as the light begins to wane.  [Edited and with Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]

It is also important to know that not everybody has to begin with the intellectual side of one’s inner malaise. 

[NOTE:  “Not everybody.”  While some will still begin the process of S’lichot drawing upon their malaise, and going to an intellectual place (i.e. staying in the head), others may begin in another way (i.e. tapping into emotions).]  

S’lihot happens in the Fall season and that means that we see the colorful beauty of the impending ending of the summer and it brings a melancholic sense to one’s physical being.

And then, too, if there are some other reasons and feelings of inferiority, guilt, spiritual dirtiness, it tends toward depression.

There’s an intuitive sense [of malaise] we become aware of — not so much in the emotional thing but an intuition that wanders off the track.

[NOTE:  Perhaps Reb Zalman has in mind a Seasonal Affective Disorder that some of us have at this time of year.] 

All these conspire to create that kind of ambience of sadness at that time.

The inchoate regrets are there and are real but, indeed, not everything stems from the individual.  A lot comes from what is out there in the world: 

  • There are material pressures from the physical world, from business and relationships. 
  • One gets caught in the “sin of the generation”
  • There is a massive depression that comes down and oppresses us from the deviation from the social and organic state  of health.

Despite this, the assessment of the stresses of work and family needs to take place in such a way that one can somehow check if one is really where one needs to be on one’s individual path because only then can one relate freely to other people.

So Selichot is not that infantile thing that gets one to the place of weeping and saying,

“I’m sorry, I wish I could make it un-happen,”

but rather,

“I will make it un-happen. I will make the tikkun that is necessary so that this coming year I will live on a level at least one level higher than I did this year that is now ending.”

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