Well, this month we have an oddity: The Jewish month (in this case, Elul), matches up with the Gregorian calendar. Today is the first of September, and the first day of Elul. [Now many times that is not the case, but September can start, often, in the middle or even 2/3 of the way into Elul.] This situation is a teacher’s paradise: She has an entire month to cover the material on the Jewish New Year and holidays that immediately follow, instead of 10-20 days. Elul itself has a special character, marked by the blowing of a shofer (ram’s horn) each morning in the synagogue. It is a time for doing teshuva , repentance, before the new year starts at the end of the month.
We live in a building which is attached on one side to the building next door, which happens to be a synagogue. Years ago, I loved to hear the shofer blasts each morning wafting upward to my third-floor apartment from the open windows below. Then, about ten years ago they installed air conditioning. Now far be it from me to begrudge them their air-conditioning…. But it does mean that their windows are closed and I no longer hear the cry of the shofer to do teshuva, quickly, before the next month, Tishre, arrives. And, sadly, without the prodding of the shofer, my contemplations on repentance were non-existent. I was too caught up in the everyday morning rush to pause and muse over any attempts at self-improvement.. (ME??? CHANGE???) This was until my neighbors “gave” me a substitute: a bunch of cackling hens.
Now I am willing to swear on the Bible that the following is not made up. My downstairs neighbors have in their apartment mirpeset (enclosed porch) a bunch of hens. [No, this is NOT usual for suburban Israel, nor for chareidi (ultra-orthodox) families. Not at all….] I know that they are hens, not roosters because they did (note past tense) have a rooster (note singular form) until recently. At one point the neighbors made it clear to said tenants that Mr. Rooster was no longer welcome in the building. He had gotten so enthusiastic about “singing his morning praises to G-d” at the unearthly hour of 5 AM …..and not once, but in an uninterrupted flow of crowing ("cock-a-doodle-do"/ “ku-ku-ri-ku”)…that the neighbors protested vehemently. So Mr. Rooster got sent to the slaughterer.
So Mr. Rooster’s wives are left, and I noticed these last few mornings that they really made quite a commotion by themselves. The term “cackling like old mother hens” takes on a much more vivid meaning to me. And I think they (or rather, G-d, through them) have a message for me. And perhaps for you.
I have been blogging for 9 1/2 months already, and have written over 250 posts in that time. I guess I have a lot to say. And, not surprisingly, I think it usually is interesting and has content. I hope my readers agree. And I hope I never “cackle” like a hen, just to have a “blog” to write. I think that my time, and yours, is too valuable. That is my first point.
My second point is as follows. I mostly blog about life from the “special-needs” perspective. Not very many of my posts come from a specific “Israeli” standpoint. And my readership has followed suit. However, over the last few days, having more time during vacation, I started checking out Israeli and Jewish blogs, to see if there were any worth “wasting” my time on. And some are. But I noticed one thing that saddened me very much. (And this is true not only about Jewish bloggers, but I would hope the “family” would have higher standards.) I noticed a lot of condemnations of others, an unwillingness to judge others favorably. A feeling that if someone disagrees with me, by G-d, I’ll stuff it down his throat.
Now we all have ideals, principles, and viewpoints. But I would like to see a bit less cackling out there. From all of us.
Happy Elul, Everyone!