As Kislev approaches my mind once again turns to the corners of my Tallitot — which are vacant of Tzitzit. I have had an amazing emotional block around tying Tzitzit to my daily tallit and my ceremonial one. Tzitzit are hugely important to me. As a spiritual practice they not only make sense to me at a primal level, but also as a “magickal” tool via the tying of knots — and it’s a direct mitzvah from the Torah.
If you live in the United States — then vote. No excuses. Don’t take for granted a right that people all over the world kill and die for.
A Blessing for Voting
Blessed are you Holy One, Spirit of the Universe,
who grants us wisdom and enables us to choose
those who lead us on this earthly realm.
May we align our hearts with your way and
may our hands cast votes that are for the benefit of all.
I was honored to be asked to speak at the Rosh Hashanah services of Olney Kehila this year. Below is the text of the “drash” I gave.
I am really honored to be here with you all today. My family seems to have a growing and wonderful connection with Olney Kehila. Not only is Holly, a friend, teacher, and mentor, but my husband crafted the wonderful ark that houses your community’s Torah. I’ve enjoyed services here in the past and just love what a friendly and welcoming congregation this is. One thing, in particular, that’s struck me in the past is the amazing kids you have here. I watch them get so engaged with the songs and chants,and I remember meeting one Bat Mitzvah student a couple of years ago who was working on some project that I can’t even fathom having the maturity to have done when I was twelve.
Elul is a month of preparation. It’s a month to continue healing from Av, but mostly it’s about preparing for the Yamim Noraim (ים נוראים) – The Days of Awe. The symbol of the month is Cattle, which I guess we could interpret a lot of different ways, but I want to offer a specific interpretation for the PunkTorah community in preparing for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot (aforementioned Days of Awe).
Elul is a month of preparation for Rosh Hashanah — at least in modern Judaism. It’s interesting then, that the first of Elul is the “New Year of Cattle.” In ancient Israel it’s the time when the cattle were counted and tithed. Cows are mentioned from time-to-time in the Tanakh and other scripture — think about the seven cows (פָּרוֹת) of Pharoah’s dream (Gen 41), the bullock (בָּקָר) regularly sacrificed, and of course the golden calf (עֵגֶל) that got us into a lot of trouble.
Considering this, you’d expect there to be several entries in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols about cows, calves, bulls, and cattle. But the only one there seems to be the one about the Golden Calf.