Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Finding Wonder

This is my son, Sam.

He is sitting quietly, watching a slug move through the grass.

Each day, he runs outside to move these bricks and see what bugs have nestled themselves safely (so they think) beneath. There have been some remarkably large slugs.

I thought about writing this post about feeling sluggish. About how hard it feels to get started when Elul begins.

But then I watched Sam for a while, as he watched the slug move its little eyes and wiggle itself into the grass to escape his watchful eye (and find another quiet dark place to hide, I'm sure). Sam just sat there, fascinated by this small creature. It didn't light up, it didn't sing a song. It just moved quietly through the grass. And he was fascinated. A sense of the wonder of the creation of the world was slowly moving through was almost as though I could see it happening.

Rosh haShanah is often called the "birthday of the world." On our own birthdays, we contemplate the wonder of our own existence....the miracle of the cells that came together to create who we are and who we have become. How much more miraculous is the creation of the whole world, the beginning of simply everything....

Have you taken some time to appreciate God's creative works? Have you looked at the wonder that is each leaf, each blade of grass, each (oy) mosquito? Take some time this month to appreciate and marvel at the works of God.

Ma gadlu ma'asecha Yah! How great are Your works, O God! (Psalm 92:6)

My very dear friend, the Rhythm Guitar Rabbi, is also joining me for BlogElul. Go visit him and read his words of wisdom on change... (are you blogging Elul? Send me your link and I'll share it too!)

It's not too late to sign up for Jewels of Elul, a daily email blast with pearls of wisdom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mentsch Tracht und Gott Lacht*

*Man plans and God laughs, a Yiddish expression (one of my personal favorites, along with He should grow like an onion with its head in the ground (Er zol vaksn vi a tsibele mit dem kop in drerd) )

What a perfect expression with which to begin Blog Elul. I had it all planned...I was going to write a bunch of posts, I was going to be all prepared, I was ready to Blog Elul.

And yet I didn't. And here it is, on the morning of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and me...with no Blog Elul posts even begun. Oy vey.

But that just goes to show...sometimes, we can plan all we want, and God has other plans. Sometimes, we feel like we are in control....and we realize that control just isn't in the cards. I've certainly learned that in parenting my children. So why do I find it so hard to believe in the rest of life?

Elul is a time for inspiration, for introspection, for human failings to come to the surface and be examined. Elul is a time to look deeply at the way in which our actions impact others and ourselves. Elul is a time to consider and reflect, remember and recount. Elul is a time to think about the plans we've made and the laughter we've heard, however faintly, when those plans went awry.

And so I begin. Welcome to Elul. May this month bring all that you hope for and all that you need.

While you're reading my blog, feel free to check out some of the other people who are blogging Elul, like Amy, the Homeshuler. Are you blogging Elul? Leave me a comment with a link, and I'll share your post too!

Also, don't forget to sign up for your Jewels of Elul, a daily email blast with words of wisdom each day.
Plus, I think (hope?) that people will tag their posts on twitter with #BlogElul, so follow me there for retweets and other fun Elul (and not Elul) related tweets.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Prayer for the Start of School

Just as children all around the country are beginning their school year, so too did my own children begin.

I offer this prayer for the beginning of the school year...

And so begins a new year....
May it be a year of learning and growth, a year of new experiences and understanding.
May they outgrow their shoes and may they not lose their jackets.
May each day bring something new and may routine guide their steps.
May their pencils be sharp and their minds even sharper.
May they revel in the joy of each new fact learned, each right answer, each small accomplishment.
May the erasers on their pencils get as much use as the tips.
May they learn that wrong answers can be just as important as right ones.
May they ask questions, lots and lots of questions, and may their teachers be patient. Very patient.
May they make friends and build relationships, and may they make lifelong connections.
May they be kind and polite and each one a mensch of the highest order.
And may this year be filled with blessings...

What are your prayers for your children as they embark on their new year of learning?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#BlogElul Preparing for 5772

Dear Friends,

The month of Elul is's coming. I know it's not nearly here...but there's an occasional chill in the air that reminds me of fall, school bags are being packed, the floors at the synagogue are being shined up...yep, it's almost Elul.

Last year, I tried to "Blog Elul" - a daily post. Here's what I wrote at the beginning of the month:
"...come back daily for a dose of pre-holiday thoughts. Some will be long. Some will not. Some will change your thinking about teshuvah and preparation. Some may be like a visit with an old friend, comfortable and memory-provoking."

This year, again, I'm going to Blog Elul. Perhaps not every day, but as close to daily as I can, I'm going to post thoughts about preparing for the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days. (Except on Shabbat, of course.) It's a hard time of year to be a rabbi. We're very consumed with preparing. But I'm hoping that this Blog Elul will offer me (it's all about me, right? After all, it is my blog, you're just here for the popcorn, right?) a chance to think daily about how I feel, how I'm getting ready, how I'm setting myself up for a season of repentance and renewal.

This year, I've invited others to participate with me. Would you like to Blog Elul? (We're going to use hashtag #blogelul on Twitter, by the way, thanks to @edibletorah!) All you have to do is make your own commitment to yourself and your own readers (daily? weekly? randomly as you feel like it? It's your Elul too). Feel free to grab my pretty badge to announce to the whole world that you're Blogging Elul. If you let me know that you're doing it, we can cross-post, or guest-post, or even just do some virtual hand-holding as the days grow closer to Tishrei.

Let me know in the comments here or in an email to imabima at or a tweet to @imabima and I'll make sure to pay special attention to your blog throughout the month.

If you're not already subscribed to this blog, feel free to do so by clicking HERE. If you'd prefer to receive this blog via email, click HERE to set that up. (Simple and spam-free!)

While you're setting yourself up for a month of inspiration, why not also go ahead and subscribe to the
Jewels of Elul, a really lovely daily email for the whole month.

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Elul starts at the end of August (the 30th) so come back here regularly or set up your subscription now. I hope that my preparation for 5772 brings meaning and hope, inspiration and enlightenment for me and for you as well.