Saturday, September 20, 2014

#BlogElul 25: Begin {Guest Post}

#BlogElul Guest post by Kim Phillips
Three women-friends of a certain age spend a day at a friend’s lake house. He tells us there is a great cliff for jumping into the lake, that we should take the boat over there. We do, and we scramble up the hill like not-so-young she-goats. The cliff is about 30 feet high but, from the top, looks like we’ll be jumping off the Empire State Building. Two of us walk up to the edge and immediately decide against it. The third friend never hesitates—just walks straight to the edge and steps off. Huge splash. What’s a gal to do? We jump. It was so much fun we did it over and over, just like kids.
I teach adult Hebrew and am always in awe of my students. Learning a new language gets harder as we get older, and Hebrew is a bit more challenging than most: it reads from right to left, has a whole different alphabet, and operates on system of word-roots that are somewhat inexact and hard to translate. But adult learners are tentative for other reasons. Unlike kids, who are a bit more absorbent and who understand that they haven’t had an opportunity to know a thing, adults are fearful. Shouldn’t I know this already? What if I look like a dummy? This is the self-talk.
Moses sent scouts into Canaan, wanting to know “what kind of country it is, are the people who dwell in it strong or weak?” (Num. 13:18) The midrash says that if the inhabitants of a land live in the open, it shows they are strong; living in a fortress is a sign of fear.
It is Elul. We are poised on the brink. This year, what will we do? Will we remain on the edge, or will we have new physical and spiritual experiences? Will our bravery be an example for someone else?
Go ahead: jump.

Kim Phillips is a Nashville-based Judaica artist, marketing consultant, certified pararabbinic and mom to Jacob the Most Awesome Cat. Her work and blog are at

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.

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