The month of Elul is here! Rosh Chodesh Elul, the time to end the Hebrew liturgical year with self-examination AND the time for bloggers to participate in the traditional (for me at least) challenge of posting daily with the help of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s prompts.
If you do not know exactly what this all means, here is how I would explain it:
Traditionally the arrival of the Hebrew month of Elul is the opportunity to quietly prepare for the renewal of the New Year.
As bloggers, we revel in posting a blog post or a picture on the chosen themes. It can be anything, either in direct correlation or just an idea that arises from the theme and that we feel enticed to think about, each day of the month of Elul that will lead to Rosh haShana.
This is also called Cheshbon Nefesh, meaning accounting of one’s life (or soul) or in other words soul searching.
This year, though, is a little particular: as the month is arriving during an embolismic year (or a year with a thirteenth month that was added back in the winter, with the second month of Adar 5776, it has been a long year.. and for me an extremely long year: this was a year of mourning my mother, and on the 6th day of Elul, it will be the first anniversary of her death.
It has been a year of grieving, and although I feel like I have some practice with overcoming losses, I found it particularly intense because it coincided with some very significant losses, as anticipated as the one of a parent for some and as unexpected and difficult to cope with as it has been with the loss of a dear beloved friend who was a beacon and a spiritual leader to me particularly.
I had learned of her terminal illness as I was sitting shivah for my mother, a little more than a year ago on the gregorian calendar, and when Rosh haShanah came we davened (prayed) hand in hand, feeling each other’s love but also feeling each other’s pain and fear, knowing both it was the last time in this world we were going to experience the holy days of Awe that we had shared in song and leading our congregation for the past years together. Kathy Storfer was our choir and musical director and her loss has left countless people drifting without her voice to help us find the gate to our prayers.
Last year’s high holy days were also the time we learned of a scary diagnosis that our sweet rabbi received after having felt not like himself for quite some time during the summer. He has been valiantly battling a nasty form of sinus cancer all year long, and this is why, this time around, I have decided that I wanted to take upon extra mitzvot (commandments or good deeds) starting as soon as I can before the Day of Judgement, in his merit.
This year, I will commit to a daily blog in English as well, so that I can share them with my entire congregation. They will all be dedicated for the רפואה שלמה complete healing of מרדכי אלעזר בן חנה מרים (Mordechai ben Chanah).
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There are no strings attached, it is entirely free and of course, you can unsubscribe at any time if you do not want to receive any email after all. But I do hope I can keep you inspired to walk the journey of Elul with me, and maybe share with me how it has inspired you to get ready for the new season: no need to be Jewish to feel that renewal is in the air, even when we live in a hemisphere where Fall is upon us! It is a time to reap the bounties of what the past months brought us and for all and in particular the Jews to get ready to account for our actions and attempts to repair the world before the solemnities of the New Year 5777.