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Be happy — it’s Elul!


Yes, I know. One is supposed to be happy during the month of Adar, 6 months from now, the month containing the noisy, cross-dressing, drunken holiday Purim when we read how – yet again- they tried to kill us and we not only outsmarted them, but picked up weapons and took vengeance, the same story-telling impulse that allows us to take pleasure in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. More or less.

But I digress. Elul is definitely not Adar. It is a month of deep introspection, a dress rehearsal for the Days of Awe. Each morning we are commanded to hear the blast of the shofar. Wake UP! Deal with your life! That’s the not-so-subltle subtext. Consider what you’d like to do differently in the coming year. Make amends. Try it all over again.

Or maybe it’s really this — Wake UP! Deal with your death. It may come this year or 30 years from now, but it will come and what the hell are you going to do between now and then? Don’t you want to do something to set things right before the Angel of Death appears at your door?

This, friends, is my idea of fun. I’m happy to be pressed up against everything that’s real and true. I invite a regularly scheduled bout of panic and existential angst. Well, not exactly happy. Content.

P.S. If you’re interested in receiving a daily email during the month of Elul with brief “shofar blasts” — meditations, quotations, and other useful bits of information — let me know. Our local Jewish Renewal minyan would be happy to add you to our list.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/11/2010 6:57 am

    This, friends, is my idea of fun.

    Me too! 🙂

  2. Victoria H. Bedford permalink
    08/11/2010 1:50 pm

    I thought you were going to add after “they tried to kill us and we not only outsmarted them, but picked up weapons and took vengeance,” “and then we ate.”

    • sue swartz permalink*
      08/11/2010 3:51 pm

      Good point Victoria. We ate sugary hamentaschen & then drank ourselves silly. What’s not to love about this holiday?

  3. abigail wolf permalink
    08/11/2010 4:27 pm

    tune-ups feel shitty, really shitty. but worth it in the end, the end of the tune up, the end of the year, i don’t know about the end of the life. by that point, who cares? i suppose if we’re going to savor the moments, we have to clean up first to make ready…kind of like setting a table or making the bed to enjoy the pleasure of getting into a freshly made one. and when the end of the life comes we will be able to say with confidence that we took pleasure where we could, and when we couldn’t- well…there was a good reason. am i making any sense?

    • sue swartz permalink*
      08/11/2010 7:31 pm

      Yes ma’am, you are.

  4. Vicki Buratti permalink
    08/11/2010 7:56 pm

    I hear you and the shofar blast loud and clear! Personally, I do not have regularly scheduled bouts of panic and angst, and I don’t like it when I inadvertently do. I’m kinda in Abigails corner…it is not my idea of fun! But oh you are sooo right, both of you, it is needed and it recently was my time to WAKE UP! What was I going to do beetween now and the appearance of the Angel of Death? As you may know, I came to some conclusions that will absolutely change almost everything in my life! And it did not feel “shitty” at all in the end! I am entering this season in so much awe and (hopefully) openness to just breathe it in. Love to all you ladies…we are all in this together, aren’t we.

  5. Herb permalink
    08/13/2010 1:48 pm

    Hi Sue: Yes, it’s good for us to awaken and confront reality and to remember that, as far as we “know”, we only have one journey–one that begins with arrival and ends with departure, and our control over the timetable is severely limited. But we do have some control over the nature and quality of the journey. May that part of yours this weekend be wonderful! Love, Herb

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