In the bible it's all about big announcements, calls for war, and calls for repentance. Little stuff.
Jews designate an entire month to repentance, and I suppose it's something along the lines of Lent. All I can say on that is that no matter what the similarities, when it comes to most traditions, for better or worse, we've usually started them.
The month of Elul (we're already in it a couple of weeks) is the Jewish month of consideration.
It is said that one of our holier rabbis would think about what he had done wrong the night before, before he ate breakfast.
Then before lunch, he considered what he'd done wrong between breakfast and lunch.
Then before he ate dinner, he went over what he had done between lunch and dinner. He didn't eat a morsel of food until he looked himself directly in the mirror and fixed his make-up.
He did it every day. (And they wonder why we're the most neurotic of nations, or wait, maybe that's just how we're portrayed in film. I'll have to have a chat with Woody Allen about this.)
Anyway, if you do this every day, seriously review everything you've done between meals, then you can fix things, like you can apologize to people you might have slighted. Then by the time you get to the holiest day of the year and have to really stand before the Old Mighty and beg for another year of life. . .
Oh, and by the way, don't think you're off the hook if you're not Jewish, the whole world is judged, down to the very last leaf on a tree. . .
If you really do that, think about your bloopers every day, three times a day, then by the time you get to Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment,
which is ten days after Rosh HaShana, by the way, the Jewish New Year, coming right up the night of Sept 12, it's a Wednesday night and lasts until Friday night, Don't Call Me with Your Problems, go to your Nearest Emergency Room and try to make it to shul if you're Jewish, everyone and his brother will be there, even Barbara Streisand. . .
If you do that, examine your deeds, your thoughts, your desires then by the time you get to Yom Kippur, you can probably proverbially look the Old Mighty in the eye and say, We're good.
Of course none of us are and we're virtually in tears, begging forgiveness, humbly asking Him/Her for another year because NOBODY does this, even in the month of Elul, nobody repents properly, and NOBODY looks the Old Mighty in the eye.
Some Jewish bloggers write phenomenally descriptive posts about this month of repentance because it makes for incredible blog fodder. We have this concept that in Elul, this month only, during the entire month, not just for one week like He does during a holiday (Succos is like that), the Old Mighty comes out from where-ever it is He/She lives to give us face time.
Some link it to a king who leaves his castle or a gentleman farmer who leaves the ranch, or a president leaving Camp David (that would be me who made that association) to visit people in the villages, fields, and Starbucks.
Remember that song? What if G-d Was One of Us? He is. But he's not a slob. I hate even saying that, repeating that lyric, the whole idea. A king wears a white shirt and a black tie, like my zaideh (grandfather) EVERY DAY. Or do I have the words to the song wrong?
Anyway, FD asked me today if our youngest took his shofar with him to Israel. He just left last week for another year of learning.
No idea. Call him.
So indeed the shofar's gone! Little One took it with him. And the only shofar left is on its way to California with it's rightful owner, #1 son who visited this week and wanted it back.
You have to understand. It's not easy blowing these things. They're like trumpets. If you're good at trumpet you surely can blow shofar. Most of us are bad at trumpet and can't get a single note out of a shofar.
But FD is an all around musician and in Elul he comes home in the morning from MPWTG, (Morning Prayers with the Guys) and blows the shofar to "wake us up," us being me, to examine all the lousy things we've done over the year, that being me, and tell the Old Mighty that we'll try hard to change.
I really will, I'll do both, I'll tell Him whatever I can remember I did wrong (this is really hard if you skip meals) and then I'll try to change, like every Jew does this time of year.
FYO, my mother-in-law says that if people would just watch their basic manners, we'd all be okay going into this holiday season.
It's going around, interestingly, that the month Elul is now called, Derech Eretz Month. "Derech Eretz" is Hebrew for many things, including good manners or basic human decency.
So I guess we could start there.
Tekiah. . .
Today is the 17th day of Elul.