Elul comes in like the mother of all months. Waiting on us, to pounce like a secret we tried to stash away all this time in a too-cluttered cupboard.
Sometimes I’m not feeling it. That invisible string that connects me and all who came before me, straight up to the heavens, destination unknown.
It’s unusual, but there are days where I float around, aimless. Not that I feel detached from G-d, but I feel like He secretly wishes He could detach from me; like, does He wish He would have filled my semi-vacant slot with one of those lovely evangelical, Israel-loving, tea drinking, old ladies? Maybe He’d say, It’s not you, it’s Me…
I hate those days, they’re almost inevitable now, and it’s not like a terrible occurrence were it not for my children walking around, waiting for Mum’s consistency in her service of Him, be it what it may. I tend to mutter the morning blessings as I empty out breakfast down the sink, wipe the counters, spray the fingerprints off the fridge. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m praying and changing a diaper at the same time — eep! not okay! I know! That’s what I mean about the slot.
Our lives are generally so mundane; and, aside from the incessant ringing of the tehilim whatsapp group, it’s hard to forget we are actually answerable for every second, even in our thoughts. Making beds, and cleaning the pee smell out of the bathroom; answering phone calls from the school secretary letting you know your child has a toothache or forgot their lunch, carelessly separating the darks from the whites, monotonously throwing out last week’s houmous and wilted celery. It just doesn’t inspire introspection or exude relationship vibes.
But, for some of us, is this not pretty much the stuff life is made of?
Asking for a friend.
And if that’s the case, on a day I forget to mutter the morning blessings, or am stuck at PTA night, and skip saying the Shema with my kid, or stub my toe and curse instead of yelling out “EN OD MILVADO!”, should I not wonder what my kids are absorbing with their morning telly?
And this is Elul.. the mother of all months.
We knew vaguely that she was coming… here to question our choices, raise her eyebrows at our language/ our overconsumption of social media.
But, suddenly, bam.
Here she is. In my living room where the air should be filled with the sounds of Hallel and regret.
My Facebook feed keeps reminding me that the King is waiting for me in the field. And yet that limescale in the toilet has me googling for hours, and my kids are everywhere; looking, listening, absorbing, because don’t do as I say, do as I do. And I can tell them all the bedtime parables about caring Kings coming to visit the peasants as they harvest wheat but if I’m busy with my home -made hydrogen peroxide/baking soda blends which promise salvation from all domestic ills, they won’t connect to the King, just as the King probably wishes He wasn’t eternally connected to me.
I’m brooding and kneading dough, wishing there were one or two extra days between Friday afternoon, and the next Friday afternoon, at least until school starts again (will it ever?).As I turn to throw the dough hook into the sink, I see my baby pick up a pocket dictionary off the kitchen floor and kiss it, putting it on the little green table he sits at. He’s all of 15 months old.
Uch… from the mouth of babes, eh?
I feel a spreading warmth around my middle, where an invisible string used to be.
I stifle the urge to squeeze-bite my child, and I start to hum the tune of Hallels past…and something tells me my semi-vacant slot may not be up for grabs after all.