32 Life Lessons for the Hebrew Month of Elul

Elul is the month in the Jewish year when we prepare for the High Holy Days by taking stock of our lives. Rabbi John Rosove posted this list on his blog and it’s so good, I want to share it with you.

Time is passing – it’s less than a month to Rosh Hashanah! This year it begins at sundown on Sept 20. How are you preparing for the Days of Awe?



Rabbi John Rosove's Blog

Soren Kierkegaard said: “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.”

Though we’re always living forward, the life lessons we learn help to shape our future. Since this is now the season of self-examination (hence, the photo of “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin, Paris) in Elul which begins this year on Wednesday evening, leading to Rosh Hashanah, I offer you a list of 32 life lessons I’ve learned in my nearly 68 years – there are others, but the number 32 is a significant one in Jewish mystical tradition. It equals the 22 letters of the Hebrew aleph bet plus the 10 “words” of the covenant, and it’s the number equivalent for the Hebrew word lev (lamed – beit), heart, which the mystics teach are the number of pathways to God.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Hamaqom | The Place in Berkeley, CA.

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