Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Rosh Hodesh Elul: What's more important than electricity?
The first day is sort of fun: flashlights, candles, ice cubes. The second day is mildly annoying: trying to eat stuff in the fridge that isn't going to last, worrying about charging the cell phone. The third day is downright frustrating: OK, so I really need to check my email and work on my sermon, not to mention the eulogy I have to write for tomorrow's funeral. OK, so I'm not a coffee drinker, but here I am with a latte in hand at a major chain outlet. A congregant offered me a seat at his table, so I'm thankful for that, and hopeful that the lights will come on before dinnertime.
As we usher in the month of Elul, I am mindful of the fact that not only are many people in my community without power, but also, if the people at NPR are to be believed, somewhat near 5 million people all up and down the Eastern seaboard. Given that Elul is the time to start taking stock of our souls in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and particularly Yom Kippur, I am reminded about what are the important things. And let's face it: wi-fi is not an essential. Even without a refrigerator, life goes on. But connections with people - family, friends, neighbors, colleagues - we cannot live without those.
Sometimes it is a radical change that helps us to understand who we are. Reflecting back on my remarks following last week's minor earthquake (already a distant memory, no?), being shaken up is occasionally good for the soul. Especially during Elul. As such, it is a perfect time to be without power for a few days.
I have (somewhat loosely) committed myself to Rabbi Phyllis Sommer's Twitter/blog-based project called "Blog Elul," and as such will try to post a little something each day to nudge the introspective process leading to the High Holy Days in a month. Tomorrow is Elul 1, when we begin sounding the shofar, summoning forth all of the reflective sounds of the New Year; let the blogging begin (and let's hope I get my electricity back soon).