Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#BlogElul 1: Do

And so it begins.
The month of Elul.

People often ask me how to begin to take on religious observances. "I want to feel more connected," they might say.

"Just do it," I will reply.

Isn't that the Jewish way, after all? Na'aseh v'nishma. We will do and we will hear. It's the way that the Israelites accepted the Torah. Do first, understand afterwards.

So often we are consumed by the understanding, and in our modern way, we want to fully "get" it before we do it.

The work of Elul doesn't always work that way. The High Holy Days don't always work that way.

Sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end, feet first, nose pinched tightly, anticipating the initial shocking cold of the water but knowing that it will soon become a second home. Just do it.

I am approaching this month with incredible trepidation. I'm struggling mightily with the themes of the holy days, let me tell you, and I'm dissolving into tears at just the thought of reading some of those words of the liturgy aloud. And yet, here I am. Doing this thing.

I want the whole world to stop this year and announce that the holy days have been cancelled. I'm not ready for them. I can't be ready, I can't have them here.

And how silly that idea is, I know. My practical self tells me how ridiculous it is.

So here I am.
Trying to make something, something, something....from the nothing that threatens to consume me.

Just do it.
Here we go.
Elul, be gentle....

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with the Selichot, the prayers of forgiveness. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... I will be blogging here, and sharing #Elulgram photos on the same themes at Follow me on twitter @imabima for all the #BlogElul posts, not only mine but others' as well! Read more about #BlogElul here.


rbarenblat said...

Thinking of you as these holidays approach. I can imagine some of what it might feel like to be resisting these holidays, this year.

Daya said...

I am a bereaved Grandma whose only grandson died 2 years ago. His bris would have been during or right after the High Holy Days. I greatly appreciate how honestly you include your experiencing of the unimaginable loss of Sam in your writing, and can relate to much of what you say. I am sharing your Elul blog with a private Facebook group I am in for grandparents whose grandchildren have died. It is a new and small group, but there may be other Jewish Grandparents in it. Thank you.