Ten Minutes of Torah: Delving into T’fiah (reprinted from reformjudaism.org)

The N’ilah service on late Yom Kippur afternoon is notable for its image of the Gates of Repentance closing their doors. At this late and hungry hour, for the final time during the Day of Atonement, we are summoned to repentance. The fact that many Sages argue we can actually delay our atonement to the end of the Sukkot holiday does not lessen the drama of the moment.

At the end of N’ilah, often as the sun has set, we will hear the final blast of the shofar. We will also declare the most essential teaching of the entire season: God is Merciful! We actually chant this seven times, just to make sure we get the point. The Gates are closing, but the mercy of God never ends.

Hey, Rabbi! An Elul Q&A with Rabbi Shoshanah Conover


We asked clergy across North America which music, books, art, movies and more help them get into a reflective state of mind as they gear up for the High Holidays. Here’s what Rabbi Shoshanah Conover from Temple Sholom in Chicago, IL, had to say.

ReformJudaism.org: Any favorite musicians you tend to listen to during Elul?

Rabbi Conover: For the past decade, Bach’s Goldberg Variations have been a constant companion during the month of Elul. They remind me that life can be varied and beautiful in its variations—that, similar to this one composition, within our one lifetime, we can renew ourselves again and again. My favorite version is a recording by Rosalyn Tureck released by VAI in 1988. It’s so intimate, there are times it seems as if I can hear her breathing. There’s an apocryphal story that it was recorded in the living room of a home. When I listen to this version, I connect not only to the deep spirit of the music, but to Tureck’s creative life force. In that way, when listening to this recording, I feel closer to God.