This Saturday night is Selichot. Technically, Selchot are prayers of penitence that are said through the entire month of Elul. However, it is the last Saturday night before the New Year that is a special night of Selichot. It has always been one of my favorite services of this season and even the entire year. I like it because it is a smaller and more intimate service during these very hectic days. As I announce it and promote it I find myself using words like mysterious, magical and mystical.
However, when I think long and hard about it – Selichot really isn’t any of these words! I am engaging in (more than )a bit of false advertising. Mystery? There is no hidden agenda to it — we focus on the High Holyday themes and do so fairly directly. Magical? I do not do any magic – no rabbits out of hats, card tricks or slight of hand. And as far as Mystical? As much as that tradition intrigues me, I am hardly a mystic.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,