Monday, August 28, 2006

Who is afraid of Elul?


I can still hear my Grandfather describe what Elul was like in the old country not very long ago.
Frightening Fear.
The Chazzan would intone Rosh Chodesh ELUL and a the cries from the women’s gallery.. piercing and heart wrenching.
They used to say in Elul even the fish shake in the rivers.
After all this is our last chance before The Yom HaDin. When we all pass before God himself and are judged for life and death.
So I wonder..what happened?
Where is that fear?
The answer my friends is quite clear.
We’re too pampered.
We’re soo protected from real hardships.
Consider how removed we are from death
Rubbernecking on the Turnpike
Is the closest most of us...
Those days..it was a very real part of life
Infants dying 2 out of 5
A bad cold could lead to death
And death was on display..for all to see
Everyone died at home..spectators around the bed


Poverty
Was very very real
I mean shabbos meals with Nothing to eat
Crusty bread softened up with water
No shoes for little boys
Forget about toys

And us?
We’re so pampered
Death, poverty..they’re concepts
Had a hard day?..relax
Watch something..read something
In a few weeks..
The Book of Life and The Book of that thing that happens to old people in hospitals will be open
Who will be rich and who will need to open another credit card account

somehow lacks the punch to terrify us..

.

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33 Comments:

Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I am terrifies thanks for the reminder lol. Good you mention it got to get to work on that teshuva stuff.

August 28, 2006 11:22 AM  
Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

*terrified sorry

August 28, 2006 11:22 AM  
Blogger FrumGirl said...

When I realized it was rosh chodesh Elul I waslike, wow I cant believe it... time just flies.

Its true, we are very spoiled here.

August 28, 2006 12:24 PM  
Blogger Sara with NO H said...

I don't know. We might be pampered but I'm still scared

August 28, 2006 3:02 PM  
Blogger the only way i know said...

David,
I know, I know, I know....
It's so frightening..
I mean, I am really frightened, but I feel helpless, and many times try to forget the deep importance to avoid totally freezing with fear.
But even this is just an excuse. there is no room for freezing up in this world. it's a luxury we can't afford...
We have to plod on completly alert and focused.

August 28, 2006 8:59 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

swfm...
dont be terrified...

fg...
its crazy...when u start to work..suddenly..things just creep up on you..boom...rosh hashana..boom..chanukah..
Thank god we're spoiled...I'd rather be spoiled than not have what to eat...and losing one in three children.

I dont say this in a negativel way..its just the natural outcome of our circumstances.

Sarah...
scared is good...

Theonly...
ahhh u touched on the magic word.
Why are we not supposed to be terrified..?
why do we eat like kings on the yom hadin
Because unlike a court of law in this world..where the porsocution and the defendant and the judge are 3 separate entitites...on the yom hadin..we become all 3 in one.
We judge ourselves and we condemn ourselves and we have the power to do teshuva and erase everything we've done.

August 28, 2006 9:23 PM  
Blogger the only way i know said...

wow - that's amazing.
powerful.. still scary - lol
you know, what bugs me.. maybe it sounds narrow minded - but i feel so many times that I rationalize things - the good gets so intertwined with the 'very much less than good' -
example - working on my shalom bayis is a good excuse to chill at the cinema, uplifting a down mood to serve Hashem with happiness - great opportunity to listen to some less than torahdig music, see a cute guy - let me 'help him' by listening to the outpouring of his heart.., have a problem with someone.. let me vent 'l'toeles' - want to be able to relate to all kinds of people so that I can reach all of Hashem's creations? Great excuse to pick up Hello magazine and read up on the latest celebs..
whatever David,
I'm so sick and tired of this hypocrisy and yet I know i'll not likely change in many of these ways..
any words of comfort (more rationalization? lol)or advice?

August 28, 2006 9:50 PM  
Blogger the only way i know said...

wow - that's amazing.
powerful.. still scary - lol
you know, what bugs me..
maybe it sounds narrow minded - but i feel so many times that I rationalize things -
the good gets so intertwined with the 'very much less than good' -
examples -
working on my shalom bayis -
is a good excuse to chill at the cinema,
uplifting a down mood to serve Hashem with happiness -
great opportunity to listen to some less than torahdig music,
see a cute guy -
let me 'help him' by listening to the outpouring of his heart..,
have a problem with someone-
let me vent 'l'toeles' -
want to be able to relate to all kinds of people so that I can reach all of Hashem's creations?- Great excuse to pick up Hello magazine and read up on the latest celebs..

whatever David,
I'm so sick and tired of this hypocrisy and yet I know i'll not likely change in many of these ways..
any words of comfort (more rationalization? lol)or advice?

August 28, 2006 9:52 PM  
Blogger the only way i know said...

sorry double commented - second version clearer

August 28, 2006 9:53 PM  
Blogger Eshet Chayil said...

anyone who's not afraid is crazy!!

August 29, 2006 12:52 AM  
Blogger Neil Harris said...

While I don't comment often, I do read your blog. Very powerful writing. Thanks.

August 29, 2006 12:58 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Nope, some people are willing to do and say anything to anyone.

August 29, 2006 1:10 AM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

Rabbi Pincus said we lack the ability or want to cry anymore
we are desensitized

August 29, 2006 1:44 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

theonly...
I know..I'm guilty of it too. Rationalization is really dangerous because then you never end up doing proper Teshuva.
The Gemara in Shabbos says...why is a shochet (slaughterer) guilty (on shabbos)?
and gives 2 answers 1. killing 2. painting (making it bleed)
The Baal Shem Tov explains this metaphorically...The gemara is asking ...the shochet of the world (the yetzer hora)...why is he guilty? He's only doing his job.

The answer is..because he goes beyond his duty by "painting"..making aveiros look like mitzvos..etc

August 29, 2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

eshet...
of course...its in the intesity of the fear..
everyone is afraid of dying...someone with cancer is INTENSELY afraid of dying.

neil...
welcome and thank u...
:-)

limey...
oh I cry plenty...its the fear thats lacking

August 29, 2006 4:44 PM  
Blogger the only way i know said...

first of all - thanks so much for the answer you gave. believe it or not - your Meme gave me the chills - when you answered one of the things you want to do before you die is complete teshuva... You probably needen't have answered more than that - lol.... and your answer seems to continue in this direction.. also thanks for not rationalizing anything in your answer.. telling it like it is , is the only hope we have left..

also - very much liked your comment to eshet.. it's true.. the intensity gets one SO MUCH further!

August 29, 2006 7:49 PM  
Blogger Eshet Chayil said...

I agree. It was a great answer...it puts things into a certain perspective that makes have to stop and just stare for a moment.

August 29, 2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger anonym00kie said...

im scared to agree with yiour theory.. its like inviting bad luck, g-d forbid. i want to be afraid without the discomfort, but unfortunately you're probably right..
this is our test, to feel fear, discomfort, pain.. even if we've never really experienced it.

August 29, 2006 11:00 PM  
Blogger Moiy-rah said...

this is how the yetzer hara is getting to us...in his subtle ways

when you get hit with a punch, you immetiately get ready to defend. the yetzer hara doesnt want you to defend, so he comes to you when your guard is down... when your sleeping... so when he gets you, you dont even relized that you've been scammed (i like that word, lol)

the yetzer hara gathers all the footage-- and he likes to get the best of it during elul. So, by the time we get to yom hadin, your down, and he's all ready to 'chop em down'.

sorry... got carried away...i dont even know if that was what the post was about.

sorry, bloggers for monopolizing space, but hey- were jewish and its free. :)

um- yeah. y'all have a happy healthy new year.

-moiy

August 30, 2006 2:29 AM  
Blogger Bonnie B said...

You are so right and it is scary, but what do we have to do or feel before we stir up some fish and make them shake

August 30, 2006 3:11 AM  
Blogger exsemgirl said...

Y'ridus Hadoros...

Now what is scary is that we are not afraid and struggle to realise the importance of the time.

August 30, 2006 5:28 AM  
Blogger SS said...

I didn't read all the comments and someone may have mentioned this, but I don't think you're 100% correct. I find that Death is closer and closer to me, and not just "that thing that happens to old people in hospitals". Yes, people are living longer and easier lives, but there are also more and more stories of young people dying - from diseases, accidents, terrorist attacks etc... It's getting to be a scary world out there, and the Yom HaDin seems more real to me as the years go by. And it's not just because I live in Israel where terrorist attacks and road accidents both happen more often. The phenomenon is all across the Jewish world, and unfortunately it seems to be spreading.

So, I'll sign off on that sad note, wishing you a Ketiva VeChatima Tovah. May you be inscribed in the book of life this year, and for many years to come...

August 30, 2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

great points david.

August 30, 2006 3:55 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

anonym....
or...we could do teshuva..out of love..which is much more difficult..

moiy....
lol..love ur wording. Yes..he difinitely can inflict the most damamge in elul..

nothing is free..lol
That'll be $15.76

bonnie...
I guess we have to internalize the seriousness of the time to the extent that it makes an impression

exsem..
so true

ss...
I dont know about ur experinces...but death is not a big part of my life and psyche...perhaps one day it will be..but bh its not.
Thanks for the wishes...May you have a happy year.
:-)

lvnsm
thanks

August 30, 2006 4:37 PM  
Blogger Open Up! said...

why is it that we look at the coming days as days of doom...remember they're still called yomim TOVIM...yes we should take it seriously these are the days that we'll be judged as to how the rest of our year turns out... but i don't think we should approach these days with dread i think we should take the opportunity to remind ourselves that this is our last chance to grab onto some more mitzvos so we can make that side of the scale much heavier than the other :)

August 30, 2006 6:17 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Open....
good point....It really is in our hands...

August 30, 2006 8:51 PM  
Blogger Bonnie B said...

And you know what on re-reading my comment I didn't come across as very serious and for that I appologize because this is a serious topic. I just loved the image of the fish shaking-- it's one of the best ones I've heard in a long time

August 30, 2006 9:15 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

bonnie...
it sound better in yiddish
:-)

August 30, 2006 9:32 PM  
Blogger Lady-Light said...

where did the time go? I can't believe it's Elul already...your post reminded me of stories my mother (a"h) used to tell me about her childhood in Poland, how frightening it was just to walk to school b/c of the anti-semitism. She also grew up very poor, and remembered exactly what you mentioned: no food to eat, save for a little bread & weak soup. It's easy to be complacent living in a rich world such as the U.S. I am guilty of that as well, and I shouldn't be...
btw - I hope you don't mind that I tagged you for the Book Meme, since you are often 'memely inclined'. looking forward to your responses.

August 30, 2006 10:51 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

l-l...
I dont think it's something we're "guilty" of..just different circumstances...
memely inclined?..lol
cute

August 31, 2006 9:51 AM  
Blogger Lady-Light said...

David, I have to give credit to AbbaGav for that 'memely inclined'. I even used that phrase on my blog (with credit, of course). I loved it - that's why I used it. Ktivah ve'Hatimah Tovah.

September 14, 2006 7:59 PM  
Blogger grinfish said...

reading this with my feet up...
hmmm...

September 12, 2008 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

January 09, 2010 4:23 PM  

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